Brexit: birth of political identities

BREXIT SPECIAL REPORT: The UK’s decision to leave the EU on 23 June 2016 has given birth to new political identities, a new report by The UK in a Changing Europe shows.

“EU referendum: one year on”, commissioned by the Political Studies Association, the report demonstrates how the referendum has produced new political allegiances based on the Leave-Remain divide. A year on, nearly three-quarters of people think of themselves as Leavers (38%) or Remainers (35%) – a similar proportion to those who identify with political parties.

Leave and Remain cut across the traditional class base of Britain’s two party system. It also seems Brexit has paved the way for a return to two-party politics.

During the snap election, a new type of politics sprung-up: “Brexit Blairism” – which saw Jeremy Corbyn seize the centre ground on Brexit, much like Tony Blair did on economic issues in 1997. Brexit Blairism helped blunt the Conservative’s appeal in Leave areas, while allowing Labour to promote a ‘softer’ alternative to ‘hard’ Brexit in Remain areas.

“Profound and fundamental political changes have occurred since the referendum and it remains to be seen how durable they prove to be,” – Professor Anand Menon, the director of The UK in a Changing Europe, said.

“It is hard, if not impossible, following the snap election to know how the Brexit negotiations will go. The attitude our fundamentally divided, between and within parties, Parliament will take is crucial and impossible to predict” –  Menon added.

Brexit has precipitated significant changes in the orientation of domestic economic policy, by reducing the emphasis on fiscal restraint and deregulation of David Cameron’s government. The report finds the May government is arguably the least ‘liberal’ in economic orientation for four decades.

The UK is far more exposed to Brexit trade related risks than any other EU state except Ireland. Germany and the Netherlands will be less affected by Brexit than the UK and many other member states will feel almost no effect. Authors conclude that the economic strength of the UK’s negotiating position is far weaker than the British public understands.

Almost all the academics who contributed to the report are part of The UK in a Changing Europe, including John Curtice, Swati Dhingra, Jonathan Portes, Catherine Barnard, Matthew Goodwin, Sara Hobolt, Rob Ford, Jo Hunt, Simon Usherwood, Nicola McEwan and Anand Menon.

The 62 page, 28 chapter report written by 38 leading academics, covers politics, economics, public opinion, public policies, the implications for the nations of the United Kingdom and relations with the EU following the UK’s referendum last year.

The UK in a Changing Europe PROJECT REPORT


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