The Road to Brexit

  • Vassilis K. Fouskas
  • Bülent Gökay


The aim of this chapter is to place Brexit in context. We chart the underlying reasons leading to the Brexit vote of June 2016 and discuss conditions, both political and socio-economic, upon which the Brexit debate was based. Although the Euroscepticism of English elites goes back many decades if not centuries, we argue that the political fault-lines created within the British establishment, coupled with the plight of the Eurozone and the global financial crisis, led the British PM, David Cameron, to take the most fallacious political decision ever, namely to call for a referendum on Britain’s EU membership. But this decision was taken against a background of severe austerity policies deemed to be good enough to heal the crisis of neoliberal financialisation in the UK and, importantly, against the background of a continuing Eurozone crisis. Thus, the perfect social conditions were created in which the morbid symptoms of xenophobia and racism triumphed, with the majority of the British backing the “Leave” campaign, against the Tory party that called the referendum and the opposition Labour Party that had also urged people to vote “Remain”. Harsh conditions of austerity fed with massive anti-migration rhetoric have shaped the context for the EU Referendum campaign. Both sides shared the goal of shutting the doors of “Fortress Europe” to desperate refugees, the victims of the Western powers’ imperial designs in the Middle East and North Africa. The most toxic discourse on citizenship and belonging was unleashed so that the politics of difference and social inequality could be reinvigorated around the Brexit debate.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vassilis K. Fouskas
    • 1
  • Bülent Gökay
    • 2
  1. 1.University of East LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Keele UniversityKeeleUK

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