Overcoming the clash between moral sentiments and economic interests in Brexit talks

rawpixel-623440-unsplashIn this blog, Professor Slavo Radosevic argues that both camps of the Brexit debate should rebalance their arguments to include both moral sentiments and economics interests. A new compromise could only be built by recognising the need for complementarity between those two.

One of several puzzling things about Brexit is that it suggests that self-interest or economic incentives as an argument for staying in the EU do not work. Most external observers see Brexit as a self-harm case. This reasoning is based on the underlying assumption that people care only about their material gain. On the other hand, the more rational an argument Remainers put forward, the more they get dismissed by the supporters of Brexit, whose responses range from attempts to couch Brexit in rational terms, talking about ‘great opportunities out there‘, to the less rational (according to the maximising self-interest assumption) stating of their wish to ‘just get out’, irrespective of cost. With time, this has led to a situation where rational discourse is rejected with more anger and disgust.

So, how do we explain a situation where appeals to material self-interest does not seem to work?

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Brexit: What’s next?

word art (1)After the historic defeat on the meaningful vote, the political crisis has reached a new peak in the UK. We have asked 10 of our experts to share their views on the current state of Brexit and their best predictions on what could happen next: Dr Uta Staiger (UCL European Institute)Prof. Ronan McCrea  (UCL Laws), Dr Tim Beasley-Murray (UCL SSEES), Dr Kirsty Hughes (UCL European Institute Advisory Board), Prof. Albert Bressand (UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources), Prof. Philippe Marliere (UCL SELCS), Dr Thomas Gift (UCL Political Science), Dame Nicola Brewer (UCL Vice-Provost International), Dr. Nick Wright (UCL Political Science) and Dr. Francois Guesnet (UCL Hebrew & Jewish Studies).

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New Tricks for an Old Hand: Getting Brexit through Parliament


Benjamin Martill and Leo von Bülow-Quirk argue in this post for the Darhendorf Forum that there’s still a way to reach agreement on a Brexit deal. However, it’ll require Parliament to work in a whole new way.

Here we go again. On Tuesday the ‘mother of all parliaments’ inflicted the mother of all defeats on the government, rejecting Theresa May’s painstakingly negotiated withdrawal agreement by a huge majority of 230. Not since the 1920s has a sitting government been so roundly defeated in the Commons, and never on the most pressing matter affecting the country. The opposition then tabled a vote of no confidence, largely because to do otherwise would have been too reputationally damaging given the circumstances, not because it expects to win. Theresa May’s success in maintaining her position as prime minister has amplified the looming possibility of a no deal Brexit by 29 March. How did we get here?

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Brexit, xenophobia and international students: how to combat ‘public paranoia’ over immigration

kyle-glenn-598701-unsplash.jpgThomas Gift argues that convincing the public about the merits of international students requires appealing to self-interest in addition to pinpointing their intangible benefits on diversity and multiculturalism. Universities should make a stronger case for this, particularly in the context of Brexit. 

No sector in the UK has more enthusiastically embraced globalisation than higher education. Top universities have erected campuses in new continents, expanded their share of students from abroad, and touted their instruction of “global citizens”.

The University of Oxford, for example, boasts that its “international profile rivals that of any university in the world”. My own institution labels itself “London’s Global University”.

Such branding doubtlessly appeals to a new footloose class of international elites. Yet as backlash over globalisation surges amid Brexit, UK universities now face their own discontents. This is especially true when it comes to educating “foreign” students.

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No Brexit Generation Game For The Welfare State

rod-long-787232-unsplash.jpgBrexit, it is claimed, has widened an intergenerational divide. Baby boomers voted for Brexit, while millennials remained silent. This argument remains although youth turnout in the Brexit referendum was, in fact, relatively close to the UK national average. Focusing on a generational divide suits a simplistic oppositional narrative that has pervaded many Brexit debates, yet as Matthew Donoghue and Mikko Kuisma argue in a recent paper in the Social Europe/FES Brexit Paper series, such a complex issue cannot be reduced to these simple narratives. The future of the UK welfare state in the context of Brexit depends more on wider structural issues related to British political economy, rather than the intergenerational dimensions within it.

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