Politics and International Relations

The 'Brexit Referendum' and Identity Politics in Britain

Professor Matthew Goodwin

This proposal aims to balance the world-class original research with an intensive and inclusive impact plan. Our work to meet these objectives will draw on a unique support from the British Election Study (BES). 
To achieve these dual aims we will:
(1) examine how the vote to leave the EU relates to emerging divisions in British society around immigration, diversity and identity: as a continuation of past trends, a transient shock, or the beginning of a fundamental political realignment; 
(2) investigate how the referendum result is impacting on the internal politics and electoral strategies of the main opposition political parties to the left and right of the governing Conservative Party; 
 (3) question how the referendum result is impacting on the politics of immigration, currently the most salient issue in the country, and map the emergence of a new agenda within this area: of immigrant integration policy and politics; 
(4) through an intensive stream of impact and knowledge exchange work, we will communicate our findings to key stakeholders, working directly with Professor Menon and the UK In a Changing Europe team to inform politicians, policymakers, journalists and civil society groups. We will also make specific space for Early Career Researchers within this impact work.

The June 23rd 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU revealed deep social divides which cut across traditional party lines, and set up the most complex and divisive political reform agenda for decades. The manner in which the government proceeds with this agenda will depend very much on the patterns of electoral competition it faces. All governments are sensitive to electoral pressure, and the current government, with a perilously small majority, will be no exception. The electoral pressures of the government will be- in turn- to a large extent influenced by how the politics of immigration develop post-referendum, and how much immigration policy will change in the process of leaving the EU. This proposal directly addresses two priority areas: 'Brexit and party politics' and 'Implications for migration'. This programme of high impact research will offer new insights on some of the most important new pressures on UK politics in the aftermath of the vote for Brexit.
 
Our research has four goals: (1) to examine how the vote to leave the EU relates to the emergence of divisions in British society around immigration, diversity and identity, as a continuation of past trends, a transient shock, or the beginning of a fundamental political realignment; (2) to investigate how the referendum result is impacting on the internal politics and electoral strategies of the main opposition political parties  to the left and right of the governing Conservative Party; (3) analyse how the referendum result is changing the  politics of immigration, currently the most salient issue in the country, and map the emergence of a new agenda within this area: of immigrant integration policy and politics; (4) undertake an intensive and clearly-defined stream of impact and knowledge exchange work to communicate our findings to key stakeholders, working with Professor Menon to inform politicians, policymakers, journalists and civil society groups. The impact work will also actively engage a large group of Early Career Researchers.

The three investigators have a long track record of delivering top research outputs in internationally excellent journals, leading academic presses, and engaging with a wide variety of research users to achieve tangible societal impacts in the areas related to this application. We will maximise value for money by using existing data sources, many already financed by the ESRC. The partnership with the British Election Study team will enable us to gather new data efficiently through an existing large scale research project, offering strong return on investment.

The project is divided into three work packages (WP): WP1 will bring together work on the social cleavages and party competition; WP2 will deliver research into the politics and policies of immigration and integration; and WP3 will coordinate impact efforts.

 

Funding Body: ESRC

Amount awarded to University of Kent: £64,910.40

Total amount awarded to Kent and Manchester: £204,754.72

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Last Updated: 16/04/2018