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In its leader, Hugh Gaitskell, warned that joining the common market would end 1, years of history.

In the early s, Labour was once again set on withdrawal. This marked the point when the Tories replaced Labour as the party of Euroscepticism.

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Mr Cameron not only inherited this as party leader in but also, as prime minister after , had to deal with a growing threat from the even more Eurosceptic UK Independence Party UKIP. Most voters are less excited. Opinion polls suggest that they see Europe as a relatively unimportant issue. Moreover, in most elections since Britain joined the club in , voters have delivered majorities to the more pro-EU of the two main parties.

Even so, the roots of British Euroscepticism are deep. Matthew Goodwin of the University of Kent, who has studied the phenomenon and written a history of UKIP, reckons they are cultural as much as political. Britain, he says, forged its identity against perceived threats from across the Channel. He adds that, although the young and better educated tend to be less Eurosceptic, the popular notion that it is only older working-class voters who favour Brexit is not correct.

Nor is it right to argue that British-style Euroscepticism is oozing all over the continent.

How British pop-culture gave birth to Brexit

This has fostered a form of soft Euroscepticism see chart. Unlike in Britain, it is young people who are most susceptible, because they suffer the most from high unemployment. Yet there is no serious debate anywhere but Britain about leaving the EU. Only if a post-Brexit Britain were a big success might that change—which is one reason why the EU will not want to help bring that about.

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Join them. Subscribe to The Economist today. Media Audio edition Economist Films Podcasts. New to The Economist? Sign up now Activate your digital subscription Manage your subscription Renew your subscription. Topics up icon. The rest of the body politic has become more accustomed to Euroscepticism. Think of it - a serving British prime minister has promised an in out referendum on Britain's membership of the EU, opening the door to Britain taking powers back from Brussels or leaving the European Union altogether.

Theory, Concepts and Research Design in the Study of Euroscepticism

And yet the sky did not fall in, the pound remained steady and the continental upper lip stayed admirably stiff. The same promise 10 years ago would have provoked uproar in the House of Commons, spooked the financial markets and dismayed the rest of Europe. In no particular order, these are just some of the themes that emerge: the selection of more Eurosceptic Tory MPs; the growth of UKIP as the anti-politics vote leaves a pro-European party the Lib Dems and joins one that opposes the EU; the silence of pro-Europeans who have let their side of the argument fall by default; the arrival of immigrants in the UK from the Eastern European reaches of the EU; the growing awareness of EU in everyday life; the impact of the eurozone crisis that has tarnished the EU brand and put wind in the Eurosceptic sails; and the changing international geopolitics that says we don't just have to look to Europe for markets, ideas and culture.


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  • Brex-what? Episode 1: Why is Britain Eurosceptic?.
  • Brex-what? Episode 1: Why is Britain Eurosceptic?.
  • Euroscepticism: More than a British phenomenon.

Just to give you a taster, here is Lord Mandelson on the role of the media: "It is very striking that the combined effect of News International, Daily Mail newspapers, the Telegraph, but in the middle of that the figure of Rupert Murdoch more importantly than any other has driven the media to a more hostile position than it was when we went into the then European Community in the s. It is just straight forward Europhobia. It is bound to have an effect. You can listen to it on iPlayer after broadcast.

Brex-what? Episode 1: Why is Britain Eurosceptic?

The Supreme Court says the effect of prorogation on "the fundamentals of our democracy" was "extreme". Politics selected Parliaments Brexit. UK Politics. Image copyright Getty Images When I first arrived at Westminster in the s, as a young political reporter for The Times, there was one man who you could not afford to ignore. View comments. More from James. Top Stories Suspending Parliament was unlawful, court rules The Supreme Court says the effect of prorogation on "the fundamentals of our democracy" was "extreme".

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