Those with changing preferences on Brexit are the engaged, not the dissatisfied and alienated

Boatleave - 10The so-called swing voters are often portrayed as being dissatisfied and disengaged from politics. Germ Janmaat draws from the conclusions of a research paper on changing preferences on Brexit to challenge that view and shows that the voters that changed their mind on Brexit express a high interest in politics and believe they are better informed than average.

Much research has already been done on the predictors of the view that Britain should leave the European Union. We thus know that older people, males, whites, and the less well educated are more inclined to vote for Brexit than their counterparts. We also know that those with socially conservative values and opinions on issues such as immigration, raising of children, and law and order are much more likely to prefer Leave over Remain. It is further common knowledge that opinions on UK’s membership of the EU are not exactly static:  While 53.8 per cent of the British public wanted the UK to leave the EU in June 2011, this percentage declined to 37.0 in May 2015 before it rose again to more than 50 in 2016.

We do not know, however, who changed their view on Britain’s membership of the EU and how they changed it. Was it primarily the indifferent and disengaged voters who started leaning more towards leave from a position of indecisiveness? Or was it a feature of well-informed and involved citizens who made a radical switch from backing Remain to supporting Leave? Knowing this will help us in making meaningful predictions about future trends in opinions about Brexit. If the changers were mainly engaged voters closely following the news, one could imagine that support for Leave starts to decline if the economy splutters and Brexit is increasingly blamed for this in the public debate. In contrast, if volatility is a feature of the disengaged, it might be more difficult to predict future developments.

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Brexit Endgame: Uncertainty Mounts in Face of Deep Tory Divides


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What, if anything, could still derail the Brexit process in the coming months? Kirsty Hughes thinks the biggest political crisis might be yet to come as the negotiations unfold. Particular stumbling blocks include Northern Ireland and the future customs arrangements.

With just six months to go to finalise the Brexit withdrawal agreement, the watchword most frequently heard around Whitehall and Westminster is ‘uncertainty’. The cabinet are at daggers drawn over the future customs relationship with the EU – a row that pays little attention to what the EU might agree to. And there is no visible progress on the backstop that would allow Northern Ireland to keep the border open whatever the future relationship. Continue reading

Post-Brexit Trade Relations: No Middle Way Between Free Trade Agreement and Internal Market

Screenshot 2018-05-16 10.22.43Piet Eeckhout and Clément Leroy examine various models for the UK-EU trade relationship after Brexit, and argue that a so-called bespoke agreement beyond existing frameworks is not available. This blog draws on Piet Eeckhout’s report Future trade relations between the EU and the UK: options after Brexit, which he is presenting to the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee on Thursday 17 May (watch here). 

The future trade relationship between the UK and the EU will affect a wide range of economic and social policies. Looking beyond what would be desirable from an economic viewpoint, one can examine the different models for this relationship that are under consideration in the context of the Brexit negotiations against the canvas of two distinct paradigms: market integration and trade liberalisation.  Continue reading

A storm in a tea cup? Why all the fuss around the EU budget

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Filipa Figueira, Teaching Fellow at UCL’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies, unpacks the politics and the emotional potential of the EU budget, and why Brexit might be good news in this regard. 

Every seven years, the EU braces itself for a strange recurring phenomenon: Its comparatively small budget (only 1% of GNI; insignificant when compared to national governments’ budgets) becomes the focus of rapt attention from the media, politicians and unnerved citizens across the Union. Somehow the fact that this is not in fact a large amount of money in view of the size of the institutions it represents becomes lost in the picture, as politicians from different countries fight to get as much out of the limited pot as possible.

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Taking back control? The impact of Brexit on the immigration of third country nationals and asylum seekers

8931595340_478ef13163_o.jpgNatascha Zaun, Assistant Professor at LSE, reflects upon the situation for third country nationals, especially asylum seekers, wishing to come to the UK whilst it is part of the EU. Focusing on policies such as the Dublin Regulation, she asks how the situation could change after Brexit, and argues that the UK has more control over third country migration than Brexit campaigners imply. 

The Brexit campaign, and especially UKIP’s breaking point poster, suggested that the European Union did not control the immigration of third country nationals (i.e. non-EU citizens) and that this resulted in uncontrolled immigration into the UK. According to Eurosceptics, voting for Brexit would hence help the UK ‘take back control’, not only of the migration of EU citizens, but of third country nationals as well.

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