causes of Brexit 2: Identity

identity, according to the Dictionary of Media and Communication, is “the
definition of groups or individuals (by themselves or others) in terms of
cultural or subcultural categories (including ethnicity, nationality, language,
religion, and gender).”  On a larger scale, identity is known to be a
sense of belonging, and in the case of this essay specifically, a sense of
belonging to the European Union. Geographically, Great Britain is an island,
which makes it more difficult for the Brits to travel to any EU member state
compared to the rest of the EU, which hiders any integration which was possible
in continental Europe. Statistics from the Standard Eurobarometer (Spring
2015) show that those who live in the UK are less likely to identify
themselves as European, in comparison to their nationality. It says that 64% of
British people identify themselves as only their nationality, and 31% who
consider them to be both British and European. In fact, 30 regions in England
where citizens most identify themselves as English all voted to leave the EU,
as shown on the far right map in Appendix 2. In a sense, rather than the
British feeling “less European”, it could be stated that they may have a feel
of being “more British”, which may have triggered the British to vote out of
the EU.

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causes of Brexit 3: Insufficient Remain campaign

The final cause for the Brexit vote is likely to be the lack and failure
of support for the Remain campaign. First, “Project Fear”, a strategy to
convince the poorer areas of England, sparked backlash among British citizens,
and also utilised by Leave campaigners as a way to demonstrate elite interest.
The main message of Project Fear was that Britain would be economically worse
off if it were to leave the EU. The campaigners who utilised this strategy were
members of prestigious bureaucracy such as the OECD and the IMF. However their
appeals were neither positive nor emotional, but in fact purely negative and
economical, which were made unpopular by Leave campaigners who interpreted, and
claimed it as an  “arrogant, selfish, unaccountable ” elitist interest,
rather than an interest for the whole of UK. This is because, as voting
demographics show, citizens in rural Britain (excluding Scotland and Northern
Ireland) tend not to feel as though they are benefitting from the EU
membership. (Zerk, n.d.) As these anti-elitist sentiments were evoked in order
to rebut Project Fear with success, the Leave vote could be considered a
populist movement. Furthermore, the Remain campaigners were not well presented
by the mainstream media, as former Prime Minister David Cameron’s popularity
fell, especially among Eurosceptic Conservative members, as he showed a
somewhat hypocritical attitude towards negotiations with the EU. In terms of
the Labour party, although there was a split between Leave and Remain, Jeremy
Corbyn, leader of the party since 2015 did not hold a secure stance on which
side he was on, as he showed some aspects of support, but also Eurosceptic
attitudes. (BBC, Eight reasons Leave won
the UK’s referendum on the EU, 2016). Therefore,
it may be argued that the Remain campaign was in a disadvantageous situation,
which played a key role in the victory of the Leave campaigners.



There are numerous aspects which were likely causes of Leave vote in
Brexit. For example, Britain’s detachment from Europe in all geographic,
historical, and political context, which led to a significantly low European
identity among British citizens. Furthermore, the rise of Euroscepticism since
the financial crisis in 2008 became a catalyst for populist theory to increase its
popularity and momentum especially with the refugee/immigration crisis
occurring simultaneously, which ultimately led Brexit to becoming the end
product of the build-up of anti-globalisation sentiment. The situation of
Brexit itself and its reasons are too complex to justify the Leave vote as an
exclusively populist movement, although there are some aspects of populism in
some of the campaigning shown in the media. Also, as seen from the Scottish
Independence Referendum in 2014 and the Catalonian Independence movement in
recent years, separatist movements must also be put in perspective as a
potential catalyst to the Brexit result.

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