The 'Brexit Referendum' and Identity Politics in Britain: Social Cleavages, Party Competition and the Future of Immigration and Integration Policy

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Social Sciences

Abstract

The June 23rd 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU revealed deep social divides which cut across traditional party lines, and set up the most complex and divisive political reform agenda for decades. The manner in which the government proceeds with this agenda will depend very much on the patterns of electoral competition it faces. All governments are sensitive to electoral pressure, and the current government, with a perilously small majority, will be no exception. The electoral pressures of the government will be- in turn- to a large extent influenced by how the politics of immigration develop post-referendum, and how much immigration policy will change in the process of leaving the EU. This proposal directly addresses two priority areas: 'Brexit and party politics' and 'Implications for migration'. This programme of high impact research will offer new insights on some of the most important new pressures on UK politics in the aftermath of the vote for Brexit.
Our research has four goals: (1) to examine how the vote to leave the EU relates to the emergence of divisions in British society around immigration, diversity and identity, as a continuation of past trends, a transient shock, or the beginning of a fundamental political realignment; (2) to investigate how the referendum result is impacting on the internal politics and electoral strategies of the main opposition political parties to the left and right of the governing Conservative Party; (3) analyse how the referendum result is changing the politics of immigration, currently the most salient issue in the country, and map the emergence of a new agenda within this area: of immigrant integration policy and politics; (4) undertake an intensive and clearly-defined stream of impact and knowledge exchange work to communicate our findings to key stakeholders, working with Professor Menon to inform politicians, policymakers, journalists and civil society groups. The impact work will also actively engage a large group of Early Career Researchers.
The three investigators have a long track record of delivering top research outputs in internationally excellent journals, leading academic presses, and engaging with a wide variety of research users to achieve tangible societal impacts in the areas related to this application. We will maximise value for money by using existing data sources, many already financed by the ESRC. The partnership with the British Election Study team will enable us to gather new data efficiently through an existing large scale research project, offering strong return on investment.
The project is divided into three work packages (WP): WP1 will bring together work on the social cleavages and party competition; WP2 will deliver research into the politics and policies of immigration and integration; and WP3 will coordinate impact efforts.

Planned Impact

This project envisages an intensive but realistic programme of impact activities that are targeted not only toward non-academic research users but also early-career researchers (ECRs), with an eye to the importance of capacity building. The impact work package will not only exchange knowledge and impact civil servants, civil society groups, media and politics but also enable ECRs to gain experience of the knowledge exchange and impact process.
We will maximise our existing relationships with research users and, with their support, pursue six pathways to impact:
(1) Convene an elite-level workshop for civil servants, drawn from the Department for Exiting the EU, Home Office, Department for Communities and Local Government, and Cabinet Office. In cooperation with Professor Menon, these will be hosted at the 'UK In a Changing Europe' at King's and will present our findings and begin a conversation about Brexit effects which we hope will continue to benefit not only us but the UK In a Changing Europe programme more widely.
(2) Convene a workshop for political and party campaigners and other key stakeholders on the electoral effects of Brexit, in partnership with the Electoral Reform Society. This will be held at King's and will again broaden the programme's impact.
(3) Convene a workshop on immigration and integration issues for civil servants, civic groups who work on these issues and are actively involved in the policy making process, and other actors engaged in the ongoing debate over immigration policy. This will be developed and held in partnership with British Future and will again broaden the programme's impact with diverse stakeholder audiences.
(4) To maximize impact on the broader public understanding of Brexit we will convene two public 'town hall' meetings modelled on the successful UK In a Changing Europe meetings held in spring 2016 -one in Canterbury, and one in Manchester.
(5) Up to 12 Early Career Researchers will get the opportunity to attend, participate and where possible present their own research at these events. We will support them through the process to ensure they make the most of this opportunity and advertise widely to maximise the reach of this initiative.
(6) We will publish and disseminate two research reports, published under the UK In a Changing Europe brand and which will present our chief findings to a large audience of non-academic users. These reports will be shared on the websites of our partners as well as the Political Studies Association and we will, as we have done in the past, blog widely in the media about our findings. Our findings from our partnership with the BES will also be disseminated through their website and blog.
 
Description We have found that what in the US is known as racial politics has had a substantively distinct and significant impact on the British choice to leave or stay in the EU, even after controlling for established predictors of referendum voting behaviour. The attitudes involved in racial politics, relatively unstudied in the UK, go beyond measuring racial prejudice alone, and address support for racial justice and equality, feelings of resentment, the sense that racial inequality is or is not real and wide spread, and structural versus individual explanations for this inequality. In the US, measures of these attitudes have been used widely in political science as predictors of political preferences and electoral choices (Bobo 1983; Kinder and Sanders 1996; Tesler and Sears 2010; Schaffner, MacWilliams and Nteta 2018), while in the UK they have rarely been examined and have rarely been included in most studies of political attitudes such as British Social Attitudes Surveys and British Election Studies. We were able to use three existing items from British Social Attitudes and British Election Study surveys, about support for race equality policies, belief about the prevalence of prejudice and beliefs about the disadvantage faced by ethnic minorities due to discrimination. Although these items have been asked rarely and often not in the same survey as other relevant attitudes, we were able to establish a series of interesting relationships. First and foremost, we found that even controlling for all relevant demographic factors such as education and class, and all the well-known attitudinal predictors of Brexit referendum choice, such as anti-immigrant sentiment or alienation, racially conservative positions are a significant predictor of the Leave vote. Importantly, we established that these attitudes correlate with, but are not identical to, attitudes towards immigration, national identity and party choice. We have found that they correlated with negative views about immigration and with Euroscepticism as far back as the early 2000s, and that they have over time become more clearly associated with the right wing parties, both the Conservatives and the emergent UKIP. Similarly to many social value orientations, racial politics seems to be influenced by levels of education- with those more educated more liberal on this issue- and by the generational shift towards more liberal values. Unlike other social values however, there is a distinct pattern observable even with the few and sparse measurements we have. While for gender and sexual orientation, as well as race prejudice itself, the British population undergoes a stable and continuous evolution towards the more liberal and permissive end of the spectrum, the different measures of racial politics show a shift towards more conservative views overall, and growing polarisation between groups. This would indicate that while at the elite level there is a coherent equalities agenda, at the level of public opinion the different elements of this agenda do not cohere, and race equality in particular seems to be an issue with distinct patterns and trends of support. We also used our original survey to establish that although the percentage of people who agreed with American items measuring racial resentment, these was a non-negligible support for this item. However, we also found some improvements in the attitudes towards immigrants post-Brexit. We have also found that the public support for granting EU Citizens voting rights in the UK is high, despite few politicians, lobbyists or policy makers advocating for it.
Exploitation Route We think that our findings on how attitudes towards ethnic diversity shape support for other public policy areas might prove extremely consequential in years to come. The under-estimated impact of racial attitudes especially is something to look towards as Britain's immigrants become second and third generation ethnic minorities and more and more policy is openly targeted at this group.
Our findings about the attitudes towards immigration, and especially the finding that they have improved post-Brexit, have an important implication for any policy makers who want to try and design a new, more popular immigration regime.
Sectors Government, Democracy and Justice

 
Description We have presented of our findings to Parliamentarians and Civil Servants on at least four occasions, although it is too early to identify any specific impacts, we have garnered a lot of interest for these (also from the quality media, including the Telegraph and Newsnight, and are confident we have contributed to public perception of these issues and the issue awareness of policy makers. The issue that has stood out is the one on the voting rights of EU citizens. Our raising of awareness that this would garner a lot of public support has resulted in many newspaper articles, was trending on Twitter and resulted in a dedicated phone-in show on LBC radio.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Title Brexit as a social cleavage: Attitudes to immigration and race in Britain 2018 
Description In a post-Brexit Britain questions over some of the more divisive social cleavages, such as over race, ethnic diversity and immigration, as well as Brexit itself, has been rised. This short survey uses a British Election Study online panel sub- sample to ask about attitudes towards ethnic minorities, racist behaviours, immigrants, and people who voted for Leave and Remain in the Brexit referendum. Link to the other British Election Survey questions available. Survey contains survey experiments. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This is a new dataset, so no firm impacts have yet been noted, but the publications drawing on the results have attracted some media attention: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/03/as-immigration-from-outside-europe-rises-hucksters-foment-racial-hatred search in the UK Data Archive ReShare record 853330 Brexit as a social cleavage: Attitudes to immigration and race in Britain 2018. 
URL https://reshare.ukdataservice.ac.uk/cgi/users/home?screen=EPrint::View&eprintid=853330
 
Description 12 July 2017 House of Lords Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement pre-inquiry workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I was invited to a workshop to help inform the inquiry of the Lords Committee. This talk helped persuade the Committee to include immigrant integration within the scope of the inquiry and thus had a tangible impact.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description 7th November 2017 Foreign and Commonwealth Office talk "Public Opinion Masterclass" as part of UK in Changing Europe Brexit initiative. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I gave a talk about the future of policy making in a diverse society post-Brexit and how this diversity has impacted on the Referendum result in the first place. The audience were a diverse group of policy makers from multiple departments art Whitehall. The audience seemed deeply influenced by the content of the talk which many said they have not been aware before.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Bamberg keynote 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 23rd May 2018 I gave an invited keynote speach at the University of Bamberg's graduate school series of guest lectures about political psychology. This included my research about race and ethnicity and identity politics around Brexit referendum. Around 30 graduate students and others came to this talk and it led to an interesting debate about parallels between the UK and the US.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Discussion of research, Number 10 Downing Street/PM Team 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Discussion of Brexit-related research to Number 10 Prime Minister team
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Early career event: Brexit and The Social Sciences Seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact This was an event to support and showcase early career researchers who work on Brexit: it included multi-disciplinary work, and it ranged from post-graduate students to post-docs. Some were selected to write a blog for UK in Changing Europe report on public opinion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description European Social Survey event on immigration attitudes at the European Parliament 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I took part in an event organised by the European Social Survey at the European Parliament, presenting analysis of immigration attitudes and the impact of identity to a mix of MEPs and policymakers from across Europe.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Gave evidence to Home Affairs Select Committee on immigration policy after Brexit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee as part of their work reviewing immigration policy after Brexit. The evidence I gave was extensively quoted in the Committee's report "Immigration Policy: Basis for Building Consensus"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmhaff/500/50002.htm
 
Description Interview with Nieuwsuur ('Newshour'), which is the Dutch equivalent of BBC Newsnight on Brexit/election 9th June 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact The interview with a flagship Dutch TV news show, comparable with British Newsnight to help the Dutch audience interpret the 2017 election, but also to make them aware of the impact that DUP's part in government will be a potential complication to the fraught Brexit process.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Invited speaker at Conservative Party Conference fringe event hosted by Bright Blue 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I summarised research on immigration attitudes for a party conference event on immigration after Brexit. The event was very well attended by a mix of politicians, activists, media and third sector organisations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description King's Policy/Public Seminar Jan 24 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation of Brexit-related research to broad audience of policy, public and academe
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Major presentation Royal Bank of Scotland -Brexit, Jan 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Major presentation of research on grant-related themes on Brexit for large teams in Royal Bank of Scotland
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description My contribution to the UKICE report re-published in the Telegraph 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact 'The Brexit vote may be the first shot fired in a British culture war' has brought to public attention the impact of identity politics around Brexit on future politics in the UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
URL https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/01/31/brexit-vote-may-first-shot-fired-british-culture-war...
 
Description Open lecture at Berlin's Humboldt University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 27th October 2017 keynote panel speaker at Audit UK: social, political and cultural challenges in the light of Brexit, University of Humboldt, Berlin, Germany. It was attended by over 50 people, and it was a mixed audience with academics, students, general public and some media (radio) present. Many misconceptions about Brexit were corrected in the course of the discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Oral Evidence House of Lords Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement 6th November 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I gave oral evidence about integration policy and was invited to make recommendations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description Personal one-to-one briefing to President Steinmeier of Germany 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Briefing on Brexit-related issues to President of Germany
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation NATO Atlantic Security Committee 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation of Brexit-related and grant-related work on Brexit and immigration to major gathering of NATO officials in Norway (Oslo), Feb 4
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation at British Academy public event on Governing England 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I presented ongoing work on national identity divides and political choice to a mixed audience of academics, policymakers and third sector workers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation of Research Oslo Film Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation of grant-related work on Brexit at major international public festival
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.frittord.no/en/arrangementer/golden-dawn-girls-apner-human-internasjonale-dokumentarfilmf...
 
Description Presentation of Research to European Political Consultants Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of grant-related research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation of research to Conservative Party HQ 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation of grant-related research on Brexit
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation to CIA/Security Conference, United States incl Pres Obama NSC members 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation of work on Brexit, immigration and populism to major international conference for security services, including entire Security team of President Obama
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation to Canadian MPs/Embassy -March 5 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation of research to Canadian politicians visiting UK wanting information of research on Brexit, Canada House, Trafalgar Square, March 5
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation to Clingendael Institute, The Hague, European Commission Policy Makers Jan 16 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Only academic to present at specially convened event with European Commission and local diplomats in The Hague for discussion on Brexit-related research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation to the European Parliament Socialists and Democrats working group on Extremism and Democracy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I presented research findings on immigration attitudes, the radical right and Brexit to an international audience of European Parliament politicians, researchers and policymakers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Private briefing Priti Patel MP - Jan 22 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Private briefing on Brexit-related issues for Member of Parliament
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Speaker at New Economy Foundation public event on the politics of Brexit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I participated in a panel event with the New Economics Foundation discussing the politics of Brexit, held in London. The event was well attended (c.100 in the room) and was filmed for broadcast on the NEF website.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Student event about Brexit and public opinion 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact PPE Society at University of Manchester invited me to a Question Time style debate on Brexit and public opinion. It was well attended by both undergraduate and graduate students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://manchester.carpe-diem.events/calendar/9854326-debate-post-brexit-policy-and-public-opinion-a...
 
Description Talk and evidence dissemination with Tony Blair Institute for Global Change 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact I gave a talk on post-Brexit political divides, and shared extensive research on immigration attitudes and policy with senior researchers at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. This research was integrated into two recent reports written by the Institute.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk to Human Rights Watch on immigration attitudes after Brexit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact I presented ongoing research from the project and earlier immigration attitudes work to an audience of senior executives and researchers from the major international NGO "Human Rights Watch".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description University of Durham 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Around 40 students and staff at University of Durham attended my talk about identity politics and Brexit. It led to a heated discussion afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.dur.ac.uk/sgia/about/events/?id=41961&eventno=41961
 
Description Westminster policy event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact "Brexit: one year to go" UK in the Changing Europe and the Library of the House of Commons event, Palace of Westminster, filmed by BBC Parliament 19th of March 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018