The Social Consequences of Brexit for the UK and Europe

Euroscepticism, Populism, Nationalism, and Societal Division

in The International Journal of Social Quality
View More View Less
  • 1 Liverpool Hope University corbets@hope.ac.uk
Restricted access

Abstract

This article examines the 2016 Referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union and draws on initial research into the reasons that the UK voted to leave and demographics of the leave vote. This initial analysis suggests that the Brexit (British Exit) vote reveals wider and deeper societal tensions along the lines of age, class, income, and education (). By providing an account of the background and events of the referendum, this article asserts that the vote was a case study in populist right-wing Eurosceptic discourse (; ), but it also reveals strong elements of English nationalism (including British exceptionalism and social conservatism) in parts of British society (; ). Given this, the article begins to make sense of Brexit from a social quality perspective and outlines a possible social quality approach to the UK and Europe post-Brexit.

Contributor Notes

Steve Corbett is a Lecturer in Social Policy at Liverpool Hope University, UK. His research interests include participatory democracy and social quality (in particular the concept of social empowerment), political ideology, and critical social policy analysis. He has written on the UK government’s “big society” idea and a qualitative study of how workplace democracy and local community democracy can improve social quality. His forthcoming work includes an account of the concept of “the social” in social policy, co-authored with Alan Walker, and research into regional film policy and self-organization of film clubs in northern England, co-authored with Bridgette Wessels.

The International Journal of Social Quality

(formerly The European Journal of Social Quality)

  • Abts, K., and S. Rummens. 2007. “Populism versus Democracy.” Political Studies 55(2): 405424.

  • Allen, N. 2009. “MPs’ Expenses: Sir Peter Viggers Claimed for £1,600 Floating Duck Island.” Telegraph, 21 May. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/5357568/MPs-expenses-Sir-Peter-Viggers-claimed-for-1600-floating-duck-island.html (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BBC. 2006a. “Cameron Places Focus on Optimism.” BBC, 1 October. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5396358.stm (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BBC. 2006b. “UKIP Demands Apology from Cameron.” BBC, 4 April. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/4875026.stm (accessed 26 September 2016).

  • BBC. 2013. “David Cameron Promises In/Out Referendum on EU.” BBC, 23 January. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21148282 (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BBC. 2016. “EU Deal Gives UK Special Status, Says David Cameron.” BBC, 20 February. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35616768 (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Beck, W., L.J.G. van der Maesen, and A. Walker. 2012. “Theoretical Foundations.” In Social Quality: From Theory to Indicators, ed. L.J.G. van der Maesen and A. Walker, 4469. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Belam, M. 2016. “One Month On, What Has Been the Impact of the Brexit Vote So Far?Guardian, 22 July. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/22/one-month-on-what-is-the-impact-of-the-brexit-vote-so-far (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Boyle, D., and R. Akkoc. 2016. “Labour MP Jo Cox Dies after Being Shot and Stabbed as Husband Urges People to “Fight Against the Hate” that Killed Her.” Telegraph, 16 June. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/16/labour-mp-jo-cox-shot-in-leeds-witnesses-report/ (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Canovan, M. 1999. “Trust the People! Populism and the Two Faces of Democracy.” Political Studies 47(1): 216.

  • Castle, S. 2016. “Brexit Vote Gives Tabloids Chance to Unleash Anti-European Tendencies.New York Times, 10 June. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/10/world/europe/brexit-britain-european-union-media.html?_r=0 (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Corbett, S. 2014. “A Critical Qualitative Study of the Relationship between Social Empowerment and Participatory Democracy in the UK.” International Journal of Social Quality 4(1): 725.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Corbett, S., and A. Walker. 2013. “The Big Society: Rediscovery of the Social or Rhetorical Fig-leaf for Neo-liberalism?Critical Social Policy 33(3): 453474.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Crespy, A., and N. Verschueren 2009. “From Euroscepticism to Resistance to European Integration: An Interdisciplinary Perspective.” Perspectives on European Politics and Society 10(3): 377393.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Crouch, C. 2013. Making Capitalism Fit for Society. Cambridge: Polity.

  • Dennison, J., and N. Carl. 2016. “The Ultimate Causes of Brexit: History, Culture and Geography.” Democratic Audit, 18 July. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/explaining-brexit/ (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dodd, V. 2016. “Police Blame Worst Recorded Rise in Hate Crime on EU Referendum.” Guardian, 11 July. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jul/11/police-blame-worst-rise-in-recorded-hate-on-eu-referendum (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eichenberg, R.C., and R.J. Dalton. 2007. “Post-Maastricht Blues: The Transformation of Citizen Support for European Integration, 1973–2004.” Acta Politica 42: 128152.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ford, R., and M. Goodwin. 2014a. Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain. London: Routledge.

  • Ford, R., and M. Goodwin. 2014b. “Understanding UKIP: Identity, Social Change and the Left Behind.” Political Quarterly 85(3): 277284.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Forster, A. 2002. Euroscepticism in Contemporary British Politics: Opposition to Europe in the British Conservative and Labour Parties Since 1945. London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gamble, A. 2014. Crisis Without End? The Unravelling of Western Prosperity. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Geddes, A. 2013. Britain and the European Union. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • George, S. 1998. An Awkward Partner: Britain in the European Community. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Gifford, C. 2006. “The Rise of Post-Imperial Populism: The Case of Right-Wing Euroscepticism in Britain.” European Journal of Political Research 45: 851869.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gifford, C. 2008. The Making of Eurosceptic Britain: Identity and Economy in a Post-Imperial State. Aldershot: Ashgate.

  • Goodwin, M., and O. Heath. 2016. “Brexit Vote Explained: Poverty, Low Skills and Lack of Opportunities.” Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 31 August. https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/brexit-vote-explained-poverty-low-skills-and-lack-opportunities (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Graeber, D. 2013. The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement. London: Allen Lane.

  • Hacking, S. 2015. “Social Quality in Britain: A Welfare State?” In Social Quality Theory: A New Perspective on Social Development, ed. K. Lin and P. Herrmann, 110130. New York: Berghahn Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Harrison, M., and T. Sanders, eds. 2015. Social Policies and Social Control: New Perspectives on the “Not-So-Big Society.” Bristol: Policy Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hay, C. 2007. Why We Hate Politics. Cambridge: Polity.

  • Hayden, C., and C. Jenkins. 2014. “‘Troubled Families’ Programme in England: ‘Wicked Problems’ and Policy-Based Evidence.” Policy Studies 35(6): 631649.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Henderson, A., C. Jeffery, R. Linera, R. Scully, D. Wincott, and P. Wyn Jones. 2016. “England, Englishness and Brexit.” Political Quarterly 87(2): 187199.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Henley, J. 2016. “Is the EU Really Dictating the Shape of your Bananas?Guardian, 11 May. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/may/11/boris-johnson-launches-the-vote-leave-battlebus-in-cornwall (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • H.M. Government. 2015. European Referendum Act, c.36, London: HMSO.

  • Ipsos MORI, 2016. “Politicians Are Still Trusted Less Than Estate Agents, Journalists and Bankers.” 22 January. https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3685/Politicians-are-still-trusted-less-than-estate-agents-journalists-and-bankers.aspx (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Export Citation
  • Kaufmann, E. 2016. “It’s NOT the Economy, Stupid: Brexit as a Story of Personal Values.” LSE British Politics and Policy Blog, 7 July. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/personal-values-brexit-vote/ (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lambert, H. 2016. “EU Referendum Result: 7 Graphs that Explain How Brexit Won.” Independent, 24 June. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/eu-referendum-result-7-graphs-that-explain-how-brexit-won-eu-explained-a7101676.html (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Leconte, C. 2010. Understanding Euroscepticism. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Leconte, C. 2015. “From Pathology to Mainstream Phenomenon: Reviewing the Euroscepticism Debate in Research and Theory.” International Political Science Review. 36(3): 250263.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lizoain, D. 2016. “The Missing Ballot Option.” In Brexit: The Politics of a Bad Idea, ed. D. Gow and H. Meyer, 3034. New York: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in cooperation with Social Europe Publishing. Available at https://www.socialeurope.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Brexit-The-Politics-of-a-Bad-Idea.pdf (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mason, R., J. Elgot, and R. Syal. 2016. “Osborne on Ropes after ‘Punishment Budget’ Plan Infuriates Tory MPs.” Guardian, 15 June. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/15/osborne-britain-eu-more-important-career-tory-mps (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mowat, L. 2016. “Marine Le Pen Calls for Frexit after ‘Apocalyptic’ Claims of Brexit Did Not Happen.” Daily Express, 24 August. http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/703232/Marine-Le-Pen-Frexit-France-EU-Brexit-Front-National (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • O’Hara, M. 2015. Austerity Bites: A Journey to the Sharp End of the Cuts. Bristol: Policy Press.

  • Payne, A. 2016. “‘Who Dun Brexit’: ‘Globalization or Neoliberal Globalization?SPERI Comment, 27 July. http://speri.dept.shef.ac.uk/2016/07/27/who-dun-brexit-globalisation-or-global-neoliberalism (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. 2016. “Study Shows that Majority of Press Coverage in EU Referendum Campaign Was Heavily Skewed in Favour of Brexit in First Two Months of Campaign.” University of Oxford, 20 May. http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/news/study-shows-majority-press-coverage-eu-referendum-campaign-was-heavily-skewed-favourbrexit#sthash.DZdOS984.dpu (accessed 26 September 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Smith, A.D. 2006. “‘Set in the Silver Sea’: English National Identity and European Integration.” Nations and Nationalism 12(3): 433452.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stanley, B. 2008. “The Thin Ideology of Populism.” Journal of Political Ideologies 13(1): 95110.

  • Startin, N. 2015. “Have We Reached the Tipping Point? The Mainstreaming of Euroscepticism in the UK.” International Political Science Review 36(3): 311323.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Taggart, P. 2004. “Populism and Representative Politics in Contemporary Europe.” Journal of Political Ideologies 9(3): 269288.

  • van der Maesen, L.J.G., and A. Walker, eds. 2012. Social Quality: From Theory to Indicators, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Vasilopoulou, S. 2016. “UK Euroscepticism and the Brexit Referendum.” Political Quarterly 87(2): 219227.

  • Walker, A. 2015. “Social Quality and Welfare System Sustainability.” In Social Quality Theory: A New Perspective on Social Development, ed. K. Lin and P. Herrmann, 5164. New York: Berghahn Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wellings, B. 2010. “Losing the Peace: Euroscepticism and the Foundations of Contemporary English Nationalism.” Nations and Nationalism 16(3): 488505.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 415 415 173
Full Text Views 191 191 1
PDF Downloads 80 80 2