The British disaffection with the EU, which lead to the final referendum to exit the supranational state, can be summed up in a few words: anti-immigration and the economy.
I think it’s difficult to determine whether some of these issues are long or short term causes, but nonetheless, it is apparent that some have fueled the fire.
In terms of structural causes, Britain was initially left out of some of the forming groups within the European Union. As mentioned in the Meon & Selter reading, they remained out of both the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC). Furthermore, the UK is not a part of the Schengen zone and still use the pound, meaning that they still retain control over their economy.
When I mentioned the issue of migration, this has been a longer term issue with Europe, but mainly within the British context. The “Rivers of Blood” speech said by Enoch Powell in the House of Lords in 1968 has become a focal point in a modern context around the point of anti-immigration. Yet, clearly, these ideas are nothing new. It is the conflation of immigrants with danger that perpetuates the fear and stereotypes. Furthermore, given the context of the migration and refugee crisis, it creates fear, and therefore an issue of ‘national security’.
As Hobolt stated there are a few reasons for some of these longer term issues, including: socioeconomic factors; geographical identities; feelings about the domestic political establishment; and, policy attitudes. As the information from the referendum has showed us, many of those who chose to stay were uneducated. Nonetheless, the government holds a lot of weight internationally, as England is still part of the Security Council.
It is important for us to remember the privileged position that England is in and how this makes them look on the international stage.