The conflict between supporters and critics of the EU is often described in terms of "economic nationalism" versus "global free trade" as opposite positions on economic policy. The paper takes the British EU referendum as an opportunity to critically evaluate this dichotomy. An examination of some 400 campaign documents using an economic sociology approach and discourse analysis reveals that these opposite positions are not sufficient to describe the economic standpoints of Brexit opponents and supporters. It becomes clear that the position of the Eurosceptics in particular was informed also by contradictory economic ideals and historical arguments. This lack of definition made way for recurrent references to different traditions in British economic policy: as a nation whose economic self-identity has been shaped historically by nationalism as well as globalism, liberalism as well as interventionism, the UK simultaneously aspires to economic openness and economic closure. That pro-Brexit campaigners were able to mobilize a heterogeneous coalition to support it might therefore be explained by their success in sketching out a potential economic future that picks up on different facets of Britain's ambivalent economic identity and is thus seemingly compatible with different worldviews and interests.