Another interesting finding is that voters who state that they are “not very interested” in politics to a far greater extent voted to leave the EU. This seems to coincide with the “Leave” campaign’s argument that most people had had enough of the bureaucrats in Brussels and of the advice and analysis of the “elite” and “experts”. Leave supporters also cite democratic self-government – a desire for decisions about Britain to be made in Britain rather than in Brussels – as the main reason why they voted to leave the EU. Remain supporters, on the other hand, cite risks related to finances, jobs and prices as the main reason why they voted to remain in the EU listed on SEARCHFORPUBLICSCHOOLS.
The latter is in line with the signals from the financial sector in London – which has mainly been that EU membership and connection to the internal market make it easier to move money, people, goods and services across national borders.
Features of society and the population thus seem to have played an important role in the outcome of the referendum. Another important explanatory factor is British party politics . When Cameron first launched the idea of an EU referendum in January 2013, many believed that the scheme was primarily to be regarded as an internal party political exercise : If the Conservatives won the next election, and if they won support for reforms in the EU – then they would hold a referendum on EU membership.
The speech was given while the Conservatives were still in government with the EU-friendly Liberal Democrats while EU-skeptical UKIP grew according to opinion polls. The EU opponents in Cameron’s own party ranks had also started shouting louder and louder.
There are many indications that Cameron, by promising a referendum later, hoped to silence the debate in his own party and create peace in the ranks. The EU question had no significant role in the election campaign in 2015. But when the Conservative Party somewhat surprisingly gained a majority in parliament, Cameron’s earlier promise of a referendum was activated. After gaining support for certain reform aspirations in the negotiations with the EU, Cameron announced a referendum before the summer of 2016.
The election campaign that followed split the Conservative Party. Both Cameron himself and the majority of the ministers campaigned for the ” Remain ” side. On the other hand, key party profiles such as Justice Minister Michael Gove mentioned Boris Johnson as leading the “Leave” side. Cameron, who before the reform agreement with the EU existed, had spent a lot of time criticizing the EU, was now to defend British membership. It turned out to be a demanding turnaround operation.
Nor did Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn seem comfortable as the front man for the “Remain” side. Corbyn, himself a longtime EU skeptic, was criticized both in his own ranks and by commentators for not appearing convincing enough in his arguments for continued membership. The ” Leave ” result led Labor into a bitter internal battle, which is still ongoing.
4: Brexit in a historical perspective
Finally, Brexit must also be understood in a historical perspective . The European integration project had already existed for seventeen years when the United Kingdom became a member of the then EC in 1973. One of the arguments for standing out referred to British exceptionalism – that Britain, given its distinctiveness as an island kingdom and ancient empire and its special relationship with the United States – had to choose differently than the countries on the continent.
Other important factors were NATO’s central position in British security policy and the skepticism that the goal of the integration process was a European federation .
The United Kingdom was instead one of the initiators of the less politically ambitious European Free Trade Association, EFTA, in 1960, together with, among others, Norway. But in 1973, the country still became a member of the EU, after having hesitated to apply for membership. Meanwhile, Britain’s application had been rejected twice after French President Charles de Gaulle vetoed British entry.
In 1975, two years after the registration, a referendum was held in the United Kingdom on whether the country should remain in the EC. At that time, a solid majority – 67.23 percent – voted for continued membership. The domestic debate never ceased, however, and skepticism among the population has been steadily rising.
5: Part of a larger image
Domestic explanations are thus important for understanding the outcome of the British referendum. But the result can also be understood in a larger perspective – as a response to events in international politics . When Cameron first launched the idea of a referendum in January 2013, it was the international financial crisis that marked the debate in Britain, with uncertainty related to Greece’s debt situation, and to Britain’s own economy.
From 2015, however, the refugee issue had come to the top of the agenda, at the same time as the debate on labor migration from the EU was about to flare up in the UK as a result of increased unemployment . The issue of national security and borders also became important, not least in the wake of several terrorist attacks in major European cities.