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Origins and Consequences of European Crises: Global Views on Brexit

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Edited By Birte Wassenberg and Noriko Suzuki

Almost sixty years after the signature of the Treaty of Rome in 1957 creating the European Community), a Member-State, the United Kingdom, has for the first time in history decided to leave the European Union. The "yes" to leave vote during the British referendum on 26 June 2016 led to the use of Article 50 of the EU Treaty triggering off a long period of negotiations between the UK and the EU, which was overshadowed by a permanent struggle between the options of a "deal" or a "no-deal". The Withdrawal Agreement was finally signed on 24 January 2020 and Brexit actually took place on 31 January 2020 – more than three and a half years after the referendum. It is not surprising that a lot of analyses have been put forward to explain the British electoral result, mainly from the perspective of political sociology. However, there has been less research so far on the deeper roots of Brexit as a historical and political process and its development from the start of the referendum campaign until the end of the negotiations between the UK and the EU, nor on its possible social, economic, legal and (geo)political consequences.

In order to examine the origins and consequences of Brexit, this publication develops two original perspectives. On the one hand, it has taken a pluridisciplinary approach comparing the point of views of sociologists, political scientists, legal experts and historians. On the other hand, it has adopted a global approach by comparing the analyses of Japanese, Canadian, American and European researchers. These "Global Views on Brexit" regroup the contributions to an international Conference on "The Consequences of Brexit" organised on 6-7 December 2018 in Strasbourg, in the framework of the Jean Monnet project on Crises in European Border Regions supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union (EU) for the period from 2018-2020.

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Brexit as a Result of European Struggles over the UK’s Financial Sector (Daisuke Ikemoto)

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Daisuke Ikemoto

In June 2016, a referendum was held to decide whether the United Kingdom (UK) should leave or remain in the European Union (EU). The British people opted to leave the Union by a small majority of 51.9 % against 48.1 %. A commonly held view regards the EU referendum as Prime Minister David Cameron’s response to the rise of the anti-establishment and eurosceptic UK Independence Party (UKIP), as well as the internal division within the Conservative Party over the issue.1 During the referendum campaign, popular antipathy for the recent rise in immigration as well as concerns over sovereignty played decisive roles by tipping the balance of public opinion in favour of Brexit.2 Nowhere in the UK was support for Brexit higher than in the declining industrial areas of Northern England.3 These facts suggest that Brexit was caused by a revolt of pensioners and less well-educated people who felt marginalized during the process of economic globalization.4 This view is not limited to the world of academia. For instance, Nick Robinson, BBC’s political editor, commented shortly after the referendum result was announced that “this is as close to a revolution as we’ve experienced in my lifetime”.5

While these accounts of the referendum are not completely off the mark, this chapter demonstrates that they may have underestimated the contributions made by British elites to the Brexit saga. In particular, the explanation above does not fully consider the fact that British political elites became increasingly concerned with...

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