Dr. Philip Rycroft, Centre for Constitutional Change, University of Edinburgh; Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge.
Pour écouter l’introduction de Valérie André (LERMA-OREMA): https://medihal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02395516
Thank you for the opportunity to come to this beautiful part of the world to talk about a less beautiful subject, Brexit.
The UK is deep in its own peculiar political agony just now, unable to go forwards, unable to go backwards. The political class has given up on trying to resolve this themselves and have called on the electorate to help them out.
The UK faces another general election, perhaps the most important in the post-war era and one of the most uncertain. With politics across the UK fractured, calling the result in our first past the post constituency system is difficult. Voter sentiment is volatile. The pattern of politics in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is now distinctive and different from England. In England, many constituencies up and down the country are now more open contests than they have been for decades. Relatively modest swings in voter sentiment could have a very big impact on the eventual outcome.
I’ll come back at the end to what paths might open up after the votes in this election have been counted. But I want to use this lecture to look a bit deeper and longer term, to ask what Brexit says about identity in the United Kingdom and what Brexit portends for the future of the UK as a Union state. These are big issues, erupting from time to time in the political discourse, but rarely the subject of structured political debate. We risk in the UK re-making our country without really understanding what we are doing or why.
I’ll start by reviewing briefly the UK’s relationship with the EU, to seek to discern the factors that led to the rise of Euroscepticism and the eventual promise of an in-out referendum by David Cameron. I’ll look at the referendum campaign and explore how the argument for leave resonated with wider discontents to ask what this says about deeper divisions within the UK.
I’ll look at the different outcomes of the referendum in the different parts of the UK and seek to understand how those outcomes relate to underlying questions of identity in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England. I’ll assess what this means for the cohesion of the Union of the United Kingdom before concluding with a brief survey of the forthcoming election and what different outcomes might mean.
First, the UK and the EU.