Brexit Divisions II: the mother of all migration debates

Screenshot 2016-03-23 09.23.19Migration will play a central role in the June EU referendum. The UCL European Institute’s Uta Staiger and Claudia Sternberg explore which arguments, facts, and strategies the campaigns will deploy to swing the vote in their favour. This article gives an overview of our second guest editor week on the topic on openDemocracy.

Migration has emerged as perhaps the most prominent – and certainly challenging – issue for both the In and Out campaigns on British EU membership. Continue reading

The high stakes of the EU referendum

stakesFour weeks ago, the UCL European Institute launched the Brexit Divisions project – comprising two guest edited weeks with openDemocracy and two public debates – to explore the strategies and stakes of the upcoming EU referendum. Looking back, Uta Staiger, Deputy Director of the UCL European Institute, explains what we’ve learned.

There’s a referendum coming.

And as the director of British Future Sunder Katwala has pointed out, it may still be quite a good referendum, too. One that encourages democratic engagement. One that may increase people’s knowledge and understanding of Britain’s place in the EU. One that will pitch arguments against each other and let them battle it out in public to settle a thorny issue decidedly.

But it is not yet. Continue reading

Winning the argument for staying in Europe

Moyan Brenn/Flickr. (CC 2.0 by SA)Roland Rudd, founder and Chairman of Finsbury, writes that those arguing against Brexit will never win by wearing rose-colored glasses. At the same time, those campaigning to leave are hamstrung by an inability to agree on what ‘leave’ means. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s first guest editor week on openDemocracy.

The choice facing the British public is the biggest in a generation: do we choose to be stronger, with an economy that creates new opportunities and has the power to shape the future, or do we choose to be weaker, less able to influence global developments that risk harming our economy and compromising our safety? It is clear to me that the UK is stronger, safer and better off in Europe than we would be out on our own, and we need to make a positive patriotic case for Britain being stronger by staying in. To make that case, the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign has brought together a coalition of powerful advocates, from business leaders such as Karren Brady to security experts such as Peter Wall, the former head of the British Army. We now need to win the argument across the nation. Continue reading

Why Britain will choose the safer option and Vote Leave

Vote leave badges. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images. All rights reserved.Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of Vote Leave, argues that the need for ‘one size fits all’ regulations to cover all of Europe makes it impossible for the EU to pursue the best interests of all its members. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s first guest editor week on openDemocracy

In less than four months’ time, the British people will make the most historic political decision of a generation. The choice we face is clear. A vote to stay in will mean a permanent loss of control to Brussels and confirm the supremacy of EU law forever. A vote to leave returns control to the British people, giving us the power to make our own laws and hold the people who make them to account. We take back the power to set our own policies on trade, migration and human rights, and the power to spend our own money on our own priorities. Continue reading

Brexit Divisions: What you ought to know about EU referendums and the UK debate


As the Brexit campaigns are heating up in preparation for the 23 June referendum, Ece Özlem Atikcan and Claudia Sternberg launch a new project to examine how referendum campaigns and the wider public debates around them influence how we think and vote. This whole week they are guest editing a series of articles on openDemocracy on the UK debate and campaigns around Brexit. A second guest week, from 21-25 March, will focus on issues of migration as a key point of controversy and opinion shaper in the Brexit debate.

On 23 June the British people will make an existential choice by deciding whether or not Britain will remain a member of the European Union. From now until then, everyone from campaigners, politicians, and representatives of business, trade unions, and higher education to journalists, commentators, and opinion shapers will all present different interpretations of the choice at hand. In this guest week we want to not only raise awareness but offer critical analysis of this contest.

Continue reading