Causes of the British Vote to Leave the European Union Research Paper

  • Length: 5 pages
  • Sources: 5
  • Subject: Political Science / Politics
  • Type: Research Paper
  • Paper: #48644871

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Brexit: The Causes of the British Vote to Leave the European Union

Brexit was the referendum vote that saw the United Kingdom pull out of the European Union. The European Union (EU) is a 29-member state Regional Trade Agreement bringing together various European nations. The formation of the union saw the elimination of most barriers to the movement of labor, capital and goods between the member states. It harmonized the laws, rules and standards regarding trade amongst member nations. Most of the member states use the Euro as their currency except for Britain (Ries, 2016).

The Brexit referendum had been organized on 23rd June 2016, and the issue in question was whether or not the UK ought to leave the EU. 17.41 of the voters voted for Leave while 16.41 voted for Remain. There was a political design to the referendum where the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, hoped that the results would halt the growth of the populist movement mostly led by the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) (Offer, 2016).

Cutts (2016) observes that the political environment was very volatile prior to the referendum vote. The UK had experienced an extended period of economic growth and prosperity but a large swath of the electorate felt that they had been left behind and did not benefit from the prosperity. They began to distrust the leaders of the mainstream political parties and the disconnect between the electorates and the political elites widened. UKIP, a right-wing populist party became the voice of the disenfranchised and became very popular with those who would later vote Leave during the referendum. Nigel Farage, UKIP leader, painted Europe as the main source of the troubles the UK was facing and that the UK would lose several aspects of its sovereignty if it stayed in the European Union. By aggressively promoting their anti-European stance, UKIP broadened its populist base while also maintaining its legitimacy as a mainstream party.

Causes of Brexit

There have been several arguments put forward to explain why so many Britons voted to exit the European Union. Roff (2016) surveyed 12,369 UK voters on the referendum day and found that one of the main reasons driving the Leave vote was the assertion that the United Kingdom ought to remain a self-governing and fully sovereign entity and should not be beholden to any outside authority in terms of regulation formulation and economics. This belief was shared by almost all Leave voters irrespective of their party affiliation. Other voters stated that their decision to vote Leave was a vote against the interference of "big government" in their local affairs.

One-third of the voters stated explicitly that voting Leave was their best chance of the UK fully regaining and taking control of its borders and immigration policy. Immigration was a very important subject during the referendum debate. Since EU citizens are free to work in any member state of the EU, the United Kingdom, offering more opportunities than other nations in the block, became a net importer of immigrants and Britons saw the balance as unfair. The United Kingdom had seen an influx of immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe as more and more people came over to look for better jobs. Further, the civil strife in Syria and Iraq brought with it several refugees and the EU decided that the refugees would be distributed across member states but several Britons were against the decision. Leaving the European Union, Britons thought, would put the United Kingdom at a better position to decide on immigration issues (Wincott, Peterson, Convery, 2017).

Aspaker et al. (2016) observes that several voters had the feeling that they had been left behind and that the globalization and immigration impositions on the nation by Brussels led to their communities breaking down. The state of affairs was also putting lots of pressure on their public services while also greatly increasing the number of competitors for low-wage jobs. While the reality is that immigrants had and continue to contribute immensely to the British economy, the impact they had did not register as much to the communities that felt that they had been left behind. Not only did they feel that they had been left behind economically, they felt that the political elite did not include them in the political discourse.

Analysts continue to state that immigration and self-determination were some of the main factors influencing the Leave vote. Chu (2016) notes that research done by Brian Bell and Stephen…

Sources Used in Document:


Aspaker, A., Denver, D., Garnett, M., Runcimann, D., Barber, S., Lord., C., Wright, N., Todd, J., O'Hara, G., Hertner, I., & Harvey, M. (2016). The Brexit drama and the dawn of a new era. Journal of the British Politics Society, Norway, 11(3), 1-24. Retrieved from

Chu, B. (2016, June 26). Why did people really vote for Brexit? If we don't face the psychological reasons, we'll never bring Britain together. Retrieved June 20, 2017, from Independent:

Cutts, D. (2016, June 29). Brexit! The Result and Its Implications. Retrieved June 20, 2017, from E-International Relations:

Offe, C. (2016, December 9). Brexit and the Weaknesses of Referenda. Retrieved June 20, 2017, from Global Policy Journal:

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