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Browsing by Author "Roust, Christopher"

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  • Roust, Christopher (2016)
    The planned referendum on whether the United Kingdom (UK) should remain within or leave the EU will be only the second time that the UK’s relationship with Europe has been put so directly to the electorate. Even for a country which is no stranger to asking for and obtaining exemptions from European treaties, holding an in/out membership referendum is a drastic measure with potentially far­-reaching consequences. The objective of this thesis is to determine what confluence of factors led to such a vote being promised in 2013. The thesis considers existing secondary literature on the UK’s relationship with the EU and Britain’s domestic politics. It critically analyses this alongside primary sources, from government documents and political speeches to electoral and opinion polling data. News reports from a range of sources are used to support and contextualise the overall argument. Analysis of the factors behind the decision to promise a referendum is split into three categories: the influence of the EU on British policy, domestic political considerations, and public opinion on the EU and related issues. The research shows that while levels of public support for Brexit are not insignificant, the promise of a referendum can not be attributed primarily to popular demand. Rather, the referendum was promised as a result of political calculations ahead of a likely close general election.