Politics of the United Kingdom and Euroscepticism

Posted: January 18, 2024

The political base of United Kingdom’s Euroscepticism had shifted from the left towards the right. During the early years of 1962, labor was mainly regarded as a suspicious party and Hugh Gaitskell, who was a British leader, had warned the political front that joining the common market was a threat to the country’s 1000 years of history (Butler D., Westlake M., & Palgrave Connect (Online service), 2005). Harold Wilson had dealt with the splits happening within the labor party in 1975 by staging a renegotiation and establishing the results in a referendum. In 1988, a pivotal moment arrived in the United Kingdom after the executives of European Commission promised the Trade Union Congress that the single market existing in Europe would be buttressed by enacting tougher social and labor regulations (Butler, D. et al., 2005).


The process of enacting stringent labor and social regulations reinforced Thatcher’s growing desire towards Euroscepticism consequently making her attack the European Union’s excessive interference during her Bruges speech in 1988 (Winzen T., 2017). However, after she denounced plans aimed to integrate European Union and a single currency, Thatcher’s political career suffered a major downfall. It was during this period that the United Kingdom’s Labor Party was replaced as the party of Euroscepticism.  The party of Euroscepticism was later inherited by Mr. Cameron who became the party leader in 2005 and was forced to deal with the challenge posed by Eurosceptic United Kingdom’s Independent Party (UKIP) (Barisione M. & Michailidou, A., 2017). Mr. Cameron responded by giving promises for a renegotiate and referendum.  In the present, there is a shrill debate regarding issues such as Brexit, which tend to reflect various internal politics within United Kingdom’s political setup. Most opinion polls that have been recently conducted suggest that British do not regard highly European issues. Furthermore, most elections held since 1973 have indicated that voters are mainly divided into two main pro-EU political parties (Brug W & Vreese H., 2016).

British’s political style of favoring Euroscepticism suggests that there is existing disillusion in regards to the European Union over political issues such as migration as well as other European woes (Smith M., 2014). Essentially, this has developed a kind of soft Euroscepticism across Britain political class rendering young people more susceptible as a result of high unemployment rates. Additionally, one of the key reasons why Euroscepticism is highly entrenched in the United Kingdom’s political class is because Euroscepticism lies within Britain’s party systems and more specifically, in one of its parties (MacShane D., 2016). Perhaps, the British system has peculiarly one of its major states that is currently governed by a soft Eurosceptic party. On the other hand, other smaller parties are governed by Euroscepticism agendas across the entire United Kingdom and have been able to penetrate the government (Lund B., 2017). In this context, it is worth to note that most of these smaller parties have nothing of any importance regarding the Conservation Party within their political systems.

After joining EEC ten years ago, Britain has never been at ease with regards to European Union. Compared to any other European country, the United Kingdom are most hostile towards EU and as such, they have attempted to use their influence mainly to slow down European Union Integration process (Jones B., 2014). Essentially, Britain opted out of the EU and prevented extension of any qualified voting in critical areas such as foreign policy, tax as well as defense.  The recent political analysis suggests that the current United Kingdom’s political stance regarding Euroscepticism is not likely to change anytime soon. Moreover, the government is less enthusiastic about the European Union integration more than the previous political regimes. This means that if the Conservative Party will be able to triumph in the following general elections, a government led by prominent leaders such as David Cameron will be Eurosceptic (Tournier-Sol K. & Gifford, 2015).

In addition, United Kingdom’s relatively glorious role played during World War II has played a key role in the process of entrenching the country towards Euroscepticism (Leruth B., Startin, N.&  Usherwood M., 2018). As compared to other EU member nations, Britain does not have any major actions or role played during that period that it is ashamed of as most of the other countries were virtually on the wrong side. Essentially, other countries were either conquered or opted to remain neutral. As opposed to these countries, British is deeply entrenched in its cultural believes that World War II was the country’s finest hour (Brug W. & Vreese H., 2016).  As a result, while the British do not want to let go of history that made the country proud, other countries opted to support EU as a way of forgetting such dark periods.


Most importantly, research studies have indicated that the roots behind Britain’s Euroscepticism have grown deep over the years. These studies reckon that Britain’s roots towards Euroscepticism are as cultural as much as it is politically. In this case, Euroscepticism forged its identity in Britain’s political sphere against perceived threats from across the Channel. Nevertheless, most young populations who are better educated when compared to the older population are less Eurosceptic suggesting that it is only the older population in the United Kingdom who have favored political moves such as Brexit.


Butler, D., Westlake, M., & Palgrave Connect (Online service). 2005. British politics and European elections, 2004. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 

In Barisione, M., & In Michailidou, A. 2017. Social media and European politics: Rethinking power and legitimacy in the digital era. 

In, Brug W, & In Vreese, C. H. 2016. (Un)intended consequences of European parliamentary elections. 

In Leruth, B., In Startin, N., & In Usherwood, S. M. 2017. The Routledge handbook of Euroscepticism. 

In Tournier-Sol, K., & In Gifford, C. 2015. The UK challenge to Europeanization: The persistence of British Euroscepticism. 

Jones, B. 2014. Politics UK. 

Lund, B. 2017. Housing Politics in the United Kingdom. Policy Press. doi:10.1332/policypress/9781447327073.001.0001

MacShane, D. 2016. Brexit: How Britain left Europe. 

Smith, M. 2014. Policy-making in the treasury: Explaining Britain's chosen path on European Economic and Monetary Union. 

Winzen, T. 2017. Constitutional preferences and parliamentary reform: Explaining national parliaments' adaptation to European integration. 

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