The Drivers of Public and Party-Based Euroscepticism in the United Kingdom

Lead Research Organisation: University of Kent
Department Name: Sch of Politics & International Relation


There is a growing national debate about the role and future of the UK in a changing Europe. Trends in public opinion, divides in the established parties over the country's EU membership, and the rise of 'hard' Eurosceptic political parties like the UK Independence Party (Ukip) underscore the need for high quality evidence and analysis to inform this debate. However, and as one scoping report for the ESRC notes, Euroscepticism within the United Kingdom is actually an under-researched area. This contrasts sharply to a rapidly growing body of literature on manifestations of Euroscepticism in other EU member states. Meanwhile, even fewer researchers have sought to make their research and findings accessible to a wider audience of non-academics.

The aim of this innovative and collaborative Fellowship is to address these gaps. It is focused squarely on public (i.e. attitudes toward the EU) and party-based Euroscepticism (i.e. electoral and membership support for parties such as Ukip and the strategies and messages of such groups). What are the drivers of Eurosceptic attitudes and public support for openly Eurosceptic political parties such as Ukip? What groups in society are especially receptive to Eurosceptic messages and campaigns? How do Eurosceptic attitudes vary across social classes, generations, ethnic groups and regions? What impact is party-based Euroscepticism having on our party system? And how might policy makers, practitioners, the media and public make sense of this challenge and navigate the associated issues? Answering these questions in an accessible and outward-facing manner will significantly inform the wider national debate about the future of the UK in a changing Europe.

To do so, the Fellowship draws upon and updates recent academic research on these questions that has only just begun to impact upon non-academic communities. It will add new data to existing datasets that are centred on these questions and then, with the ESRC and the London-based think tank Chatham House, communicate the power of social science through a series of high profile and accessible outputs. Workshops with different groups of stakeholders, a series of evidence briefings, blogs, a final report, an accompanying launch event and social media will all be used to disseminate social science research on these areas to a wide and diverse audience.

Planned Impact

The Project will benefit a wide and diverse range of academic and non-academic audiences, as outlined in the Pathways to Impact section. By examining the drivers of Euroscepticism in the UK, and working with the ESRC and Chatham House, the Fellowship will deliver twelve months of sustained knowledge exchange and impact-related activity, championing the social sciences and engaging with stakeholders from a range of organizations, including:

--UK-based policymakers who share an interest in the UK's relationship with the EU, including senior civil servants and politicians in the Cabinet Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Home Office, European Fast Streamers and, further afield, the European Commission and European Parliament. It should be noted that Chatham House and Dr Goodwin have extensive contacts in such institutions.

--Figures in major political parties and advocacy groups, including the major political parties, Business for Britain, European Movement, British Influence, and senior Europe correspondents and journalists who write on these issues (e.g. at the BBC, Financial Times, Parliament Magazine, European Voice and Economist).

--Think tanks that cover the EU and related issues, including the Migration Observatory, Compas, National Institute for Economic and Social Research, Migration Studies Unit, Institute for Social Change, Centre on Dynamics and Ethnicity, Centre for European Reform, Open Europe, Policy Network, Demos, the Institute for Public Policy Research, Policy Exchange and Young Foundation.

--Schools, young people and the general public, for example A-levels students and business professionals who will either be studying or interested in issues around a possible referendum on EU membership

How will the above users benefit? The Fellowship proposes specific avenues toward impact:

--First, after updating and analysing data on these issues the project will publish a regular series of evidence briefings and blogs, sharing them with beneficiaries via the ESRC and Chatham House websites and on social media. We will actively encourage schools and business organizations to engage with us on social media and write a few of the blogs specifically for these communities

--Second, we will hold three specific knowledge exchange workshops at Chatham House, and for (1) policy elites in the UK/EU, (2) media editors and journalists, and (3) opinion-formers more generally, to help ensure that the research is influencing the national debate from multiple angles.

--Third, users will further benefit from a final (10-12,000 word) Chatham House report, which will present findings and implications on the drivers of Euroscepticism in the UK. Typical of such reports, it will be made available online, in an accessible and 'reader-friendly' fashion, and communicated widely via the Chatham House communications team. The PI will work closely with Chatham House during these activities having been given (in-kind) office space at the Institute.

--Fourth, beneficiaries will be invited to a major Chatham House event in Brussels in the spring of 2016, which will circulate the research and ESRC programme to a wider pan-European audience. Other Senior Fellows will be involved in this event.

--Fifth, all materials relating to the project will be made available on the ESRC Fellowship website, a dedicated page on the Chatham House website and regularly communicated through social media and in response to specific events.

--Sixth, academic users will benefit from at least one 'high-impact' journal article that examines the drivers of Euroscepticism within the UK, published in a journal such as the British Journal of Political Science or Political Studies.
Description Though this grant has not yet concluded I have undertaken a significant amount of research into the drivers of party-based Euroscepticism, ahead of Britain's referendum on its continuing EU membership. This has included a comprehensive briefing paper with the think-tank Chatham House that examines the drivers of public Euroscepticism, a working academic paper that examines the local electoral performance of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), and another working academic paper that investigates the electoral performance of UKIP at the 2015 general election. I have also disseminated these findings widely into the public debate (see the link below).

Since the above, this grant has led to publications in a book with Oxford University Press, another with Cambridge University Press and a series of articles in Electoral Studies, Parliamentary Affairs and others. I have exceeded my original deliverables.
Exploitation Route The aim of this grant was to share social science research with the wider public and national debate, helping non-academics to navigate the EU referendum and understand both sides of this debate. In this respect my findings have been used by journalists, think-tankers, private companies and the general public, and will continue to be until the completion of the grant in the summer of 2016.
Sectors Education,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy

Description My findings have been used widely by non-academics, including journalists, think-tankers and members of the general public. We have delivered numerous evidence-based briefing sessions with the project partner (Chatham House) as well as the ESRC. These briefings ensured that the findings have been used to inform the public debate around Britain's EU referendum. In addition, we have published one comprehensive briefing report on the drivers of Euroscepticism and plan to release a final report in the spring. The core findings have also been used and disseminated through numerous newspapers, blogs and magazines, as well as broadcast media. For a list of dissemination see:
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Education,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description Evening Standard Op-Ed 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Evening Standard Op-Ed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
Description World Today essay 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Essay for the World Today
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015