The Long Brexit: Postwar British Euroscepticism

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Rice University

The 2016 British vote to exit the European Union (“Brexit”), was greeted with global dismay as the very project of Europe was called into question. The phenomenon of Euroscepticism in postwar European politics has been regarded as a function of party politics. Existing frameworks of Euroscepticism, which have regarded it as a fringe political belief, did not hold up in the British case. Periodicals, political speeches, party literature, and government documents were used to examine how British politicians across the ideological spectrum described the country’s role in Europe. Chronicling how new political actors honed and refined Eurosceptic arguments, the conversion of European integration from a technocratic to a domestic political issue was documented. The decision to hold the 2016 referendum resulted from the ways that political parties discussed Europe at different stages of EU integration. Similarly, contradictory arguments that activated diverse groups of voters to unite against Europe and David Cameron’s inability to move his party beyond the issue of Europe carried Eurosceptics to success in the polls.

A thesis submitted to the Undergraduate Studies Committee of the Department of History of Rice University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in History with Honors.
Brexit, Politics, Britain, 20th Century, Populism, Europe, European Union

Ratnoff, David. "The Long Brexit: Postwar British Euroscepticism." Undergraduate thesis, Rice University, 2018.

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