What difference are the Unite to Remain and Brexit Party pacts likely to make?

18 Nov

The Unite to Remain alliance means the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Greens are trying to pool their votes to ensure a Remain-backing candidate is elected. But the Brexit Party’s decision to stand down their candidates in Tory-held seats makes this tougher. Heinz Brandenburg (University of Strathclyde) concludes that the overall effect of these pacts will be minimal. Now […]

Long read | Brexiteers might have succeeded, but Brexit will fail

15 Nov

After the conclusion of negotiations between the twenty-seven EU Member States and Boris Johnson’s government on the UK’s EU withdrawal agreement, Brexiteers seem to finally be on the verge of achieving their goal, writes Thierry Chopin (ESPOL/Bruges). But will Brexit succeed? Probably not, or else in its current form it will cause many losers, including those who voted to leave the EU […]

We need to talk about A/B testing: Brexit, attack ads and the election campaign

13 Nov

With the general election a month away, how are the parties targeting voters on Facebook with messages about Brexit? Tristan Hotham (University of Bath) explains how A/B testing is being used to identify the most effective campaign themes. Political parties using Facebook ads have a powerful capacity to hone their messages. Unlike in the past – where expensive and hard-to-organise […]

Remain or Leave, people should be able to vote for the party they want to see win

12 Nov

We should be scrutinising candidates and policies. Instead the talk is of tactical voting and electoral pacts. Brexit has thrown the deficiencies of our voting system into sharp relief, but this must be the last general election fought under first past the post, writes Ian Simpson (Electoral Reform Society). Introducing the single transferable vote would mean voters would feel free […]

Money can’t buy love for Europe but success certainly can

12 Nov

What can the EU do in practice to build its own electoral support? To what extent can Euroscepticism be influenced by EU policies? Analysis of votes in the Brexit referendum suggests that money does not influence voters’ support for Europe, write Riccardo Crescenzi (LSE), Marco Di Cataldo (LSE/Ca’ Foscari University of Venice), and Mara Giua (Roma Tre University). It is the […]

Long read | Left and Right in never-ending opposition to European integration

7 Nov

Anti-Europeanism has long been a component of modern politics in Europe and it transcends the right and left, argues Denis MacShane in his latest book, Brexiternity. The Uncertain Fate of Britain. If we step back from the Brexit looking-glass, we can see that any form of European partnership or common purpose or sharing of some national sovereignty – to a greater or lesser degree […]

Beyond no deal: what else does the Brexit Party want?

6 Nov

Apart from a no-deal Brexit, what does the Brexit Party want? Callum Tindall (University of Nottingham) analyses its monthly newsletter to find clues about the party’s policies and ideology. At next month’s general election, the Brexit Party (BP) embarks upon its first venture into national politics. Less than a year old, with successful European parliamentary elections under their belt, they […]

Would a more educated population have rejected Brexit?

4 Nov

Only a quarter of Britons with a university degree voted Leave, which has led many to conclude that education makes people less Eurosceptic. Sander Kunst (University of Amsterdam) tested this theory and found that the association is not simple. A small majority of 51.9% voted to Leave the EU. Recent studies show that education level was one of the most […]

Long read: Are opinion polls biased towards Leave?

29 Oct

Much of public opinion polling in the UK is nowadays conducted online. This has many advantages as it allows polls to be conducted more cheaply, but it also runs into several problems. Thiemo Fetzer (University of Warwick) illustrates some of the technical issues that arise using the example of the British Election Study, which is an important point of reference for […]

Long read: the makings of Brexit and the road ahead

23 Oct

On the cusp of the UK’s exit from the EU, Philip Rycroft (Bennett Institute, University of Cambridge) reflects on his seven years at the centre of the UK government to ask how we reached this point in the country’s history. In a lecture delivered on 3 October 2019 in Cambridge, he examines the underlying causes of Brexit and the political […]

Johnson has defined Brexit. Now it is for the opposition parties to defeat it

21 Oct

Only if the opposition parties accept that Boris Johnson has now defined Brexit can it unite to defeat his deal, writes Phil Syrpis (University of Bristol). Trying to redefine the terms of the deal will exasperate the public and probably end in failure. The path to remain lies in a second referendum or general election. Super Saturday turned out to […]

Knowing Me, Not Knowing EU: how misunderstanding the EU means misunderstanding the UK (and makes it harder to leave)

8 Oct

As the EU’s infamous ‘awkward partner’, the UK has a rich history of not quite getting what it means to be European. The latest round of Brexit negotiations are no exception. Zoë Jay (University of Tasmania) explains why misunderstanding the EU means misunderstanding the UK, and that makes it harder to leave. Continuing with his trademark flying-by-the-seat-of-his-pants approach to diplomacy, Prime […]

More in common: the emotional experience of Brexit in the eyes of generations

3 Oct

‘We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us’, said Jo Cox. Hence, at a time when Remain and Leave positions are more salient than political ideology, it is critical to understand how people feel about politics. In this blog, Simona Guerra (University of Leicester) writes about the emotional experience […]

How little we know: reflections on our ignorance of the EU

24 Sep

Both Leavers and Remainers are almost equally ignorant about the workings of the EU. Dorothy Bishop (University of Oxford) looks at research into how cognitive biases influence people’s opinions of the Union, and questions whether, given how little voters knew, the referendum was valid. As a Remainer, I am baffled as to what Brexiteers want. If you ask them, as […]

Rational high ground or compromise? Liberal strategies for coping with Brexit

20 Sep

How do liberal Remainers negotiate their dismay and shock at the Leave vote? Daphne Fietz (LSE) talked to nine people who voted Remain and analysed the comment section of the Guardian. She discusses how they deployed different liberal values in an effort to either distance themselves from the ‘irrationality’ of Leavers, or seek compromise. While Brexit may be imminent, no […]

The Lib Dems are right – revoking Article 50 is a winning proposition

11 Sep

The Lib Dems are right to have promised to revoke Article 50, writes Phil Syrpis (University of Bristol). Revocation would ‘make it stop’ – an appealing proposition for those weary of Brexit and who want to focus on domestic politics. Labour should follow suit. It now looks as though the UK will be heading towards a pre-Brexit general election. Notwithstanding […]

Why we need a Democracy Protection Act before the general election

10 Sep

With a general election imminent, Ewan McGaughey (King’s College London) argues that a new law is urgently needed to stop the poll being swung by stolen data, foreign donations and Russian interference. If a no-deal Brexit is averted, Britain nonetheless faces the prospect of a general election going ahead without electoral law reform. As Boris Johnson goaded the Leader of […]

Young people and Brexit: the implications for the far-right and Scottish independence

9 Sep

Since the EU referendum, the narrative of an inter-generational divide has emerged, with the country’s older pro-Leave generation thought to be at odds with a younger, pro-Remain generation. Rakib Ehsan (Henry Jackson Society) investigated these intra-generational differences and suggests that failure to deliver Brexit may provide a boost for far-right organisations, but that a disruptive no-deal Brexit has the potential […]

Categories, stereotypes, and political identities: the use of Brexiter and Remainer in online comments

6 Sep

Joanne Meredith (University of Wolverhampton) and Emma Richardson (University of Leicester) examine how the terms Brexiter and Remainer were used by online commenters during and after the referendum. They find that the two are seen as political categories in their own right, and the commenters resisted other, well-defined political identities, such as Conservative or Labour supporters. Commentary around Brexit highlighted political and social […]

Labour cannot be a party of Remain if it is serious about radical change

5 Sep

Brexit has energised the centrist political forces that want to remain in the EU, but they have little to show for their efforts. Michael Wilkinson (LSE) argues that Labour should avoid flirting with Remainism if it wants to be the party of radical change and defeat Boris Johnson. The divisions underlying Brexit are deep and complex, and cut across various […]

Chasing votes in a divided Kingdom: why the Brexit split is about much more than just the EU

30 Aug

Jonathan Wheatley draws on recent data following the European Parliament election to strengthen the view that the so-called Brexit divide is not only about the EU, but it is instead about a range of issues relating to identity. He considers what the implications of these findings are for party strategists. The May 23 elections to the European Parliament (EP) were […]

Understanding Boris Johnson’s ‘retropian’ appeal to Conservatives

13 Aug

The election of Boris Johnson once again highlights the salience of nostalgia to the Brexit debate. This is more than a throwaway attack line, writes Paul David Beaumont (Norwegian University of Life Sciences). Drawing upon social psychology can provide the theoretical basis for why and how Johnson’s “retrotopian” rhetoric appeals to old, wealthy, and nationalist Brexiteers. The election of Boris […]

Brexit behaviourally: which do you think is the bigger figure – £350m a week or £4,300 per household per year?

29 Jul

The Leave campaign’s ‘£350m a week’ figure cut through to voters in the 2016 referendum, while the Treasury’s ‘£4,300 per household per year’ didn’t. Was the relationship between the two figures intuitively self-evident? One is six times bigger than the other. Tessa Buchanan (University College London) looks at some of the behavioural lessons that can be learned from the campaign. Psychologist Daniel […]