Politics in the UK and the Birth of Euroscepticism

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To introduce you to the topics that we will cover in this essay we will talk about Euroscepticism, there will be an introduction to Euroscepticism with a definition including hard and soft Euroscepticism, a brief history of Euroscepticism when UK joined the EU. We will talk a lot about European integration by looking at different approaches. There will be talked about what drives Euroscepticism. Also, briefly talked about UKIP and a little comparison/example.

For starters, we shall look at Euroscepticism definition and different types of Euroscepticism. What is Euroscepticism? Euroscepticism is a “utilitarian model that propose the attitudes towards the European integration and are shaped by socio-economic situations in different costs from integration policies” (André and Koen, 2007). Euroscepticism is about people opinion about what the European Union does such as policy making, politics, economic growth all this includes people opinion and trust. However, the actual definition has been give in journal article of (André and Koen, 2007) goes as follows “a party-based Euroscepticism 'expresses the idea of contingent or qualified opposition, as well as incorporating outright and unqualified opposition to the process of European integration”- by definition Andre and Koen explain that Euroscepticism is mostly based on the parties in the European Union and in individual countries. This could identify the actual reason for people being Eurosceptic as it is based on the parties in the European Union and how they operate as a union. Their opinion on party system and European Union government control. To understand Euroscepticism further, we should look at different types of Euroscepticism there are two main types hard Euroscepticism and soft Euroscepticism.

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Hard Euroscepticism has been identified by Taggart and Szczerbiak in Andre and Koen article and to their view of Euroscepticism is based on outright of the projects of the European politics and economics, they said as follows “'hard Euroscepticism implies outright rejection of the entire project of European political and economic integration, and opposition to one's country joining or remaining a member of the EU (Taggart and Szczerbiak, 2004, 3)” in (André and Koen, 2007). It implied on the choice that the European Union is making the main decisions for the EU union. For example, it would be a hard Euroscepticism if the country decides to enter or to remain in the European Union, it is based on the transfer of powers because when a country joins the EU they transfer some of the country’s power to the EU institution that is why EU has limited power to control each state in the EU. A little simpler definition of hard Euroscepticism was identified in a blog article it goes as follows, “principled opposition to the project of European integration based on the ceding or transfer of powers to supranational institutions such as the EU”. They identified that Euroscepticism is transfer of powers although it is unclear how much power the EU gets over the country it may be limited as each individual country have the most power in making their own decisions.

Moreover, Soft Euroscepticism as by a definition identified by Taggart and Szczerbiak from it says, “Soft Euroscepticism, by contrast, involves 'contingent or qualified opposition to European integration' related to national-interest and/or policy-oriented concerns” in (André and Koen, 2007).

Meaning that the countries gets more support from the European Union and for the EU projects. Soft Euroscepticism did not have a “principled objection” but there was an opposition of Union and planning for the future of the European Union, the plans included the more countries and to grow its European Union community and powers (Taggart and Szczerbiak, 2019).

Post 1945 after second world war Churchill the European leader made plans to expand the European Union. He saw France and Germany taking the lead in the EU and making its economy grow. However, he did not see Britain being part of the EU. In 1951 “the UK sent a middle-ranking trade official as a mere observer to the signing of the Treaty of Rome that year” (Toby, 2016). UK joined the EU in 1973, before UK joining the EU, France was holding onto UK two previous application, being afraid and thinking that UK would take the lead in the EU economy. Later in 1975 the Labour party and Eurosceptic members of the party wanted to have a referendum to leave European Economic Community (EEC). This referendum had 67% of who was in favor to stay in the EEC. As part of the history was strict Commonwealth- in 1962 when UK applied to become part of the European Union the common market have became mixed and before the application process which was not easy for Britain and before the Labour party conference Hugh Gaitskell said this 'the end of Britain as an independent European state' and “the end of a thousand years of history” (Andrew, 2013)- which explains why Brexit is happening, it is because EU wanted to control UK’s policies but we wanted be involved in Europe without giving up the right to run our own affairs.

Moreover, the history of Euroscepticism has been part of the European Union ever since it was created. It involves European integration which changed and shaped EU to the way it is now a quote that would simply explain the EU integration when we look at three approaches. Firstly, “utilitarian models posit that attitudes towards European integration are shaped by socio-economic situations resulting in different costs from integration policies” (André and Koen, 2007). As for many European countries’ that are industrialized and ahead of economy such as Germany, France, Netherlands, United Kingdom are the ones that benefit from economic integration in the European Union. It included the winners of economic globalization that do support of economic integration. Then the ones that tend to lose in the economic globalization because these countries are not as industrialized as other EU countries that support economic integration therefore smaller and countries do not support economic integration. The second approach would be “EU-attitudes which are a function of citizens’ feelings of national identity, their perceptions of cultural threats to the nation-state as well as anti-immigrant sentiments” (André and Koen, 2007). EU citizens are a big part of EU integration and the attitudes toward the Europe can be directed for or against the very ideas of European integration, the integration process of expanding the EU membership to other countries impacts of a development in the EU. The performance of the unity together, policies and legislation making and politics. EU- attitude of their citizens depends on the political performance, the elections and politician doing what they have promised during their campaigns. During the European Union meetings, people trust the politicians to do the best they can for their country and its citizens. “Eurosceptics may differ in the degree of opposition” (André and Koen, 2007). Euroscepticism is a new attitude towards Europe but the target of dissatisfaction of national government of the EU state citizens which vary from ideas of European integration, to European initiation and even to European policies and its politicians. Which leads to the trust of politicians, legislation and decision making, people would have a different attitude towards politicians but people pay attention more into what decision would affect them and if they can trust politician to make those decisions for the country or the EU to keep its promises, most commonly those are the reasons why Euroscepticism occurs in EU countries.

In terms of Eurosceptic drive, it happens in many countries across the Europe for many reasons, especially the ones mentioned above. While there are many scholars talking about Eurosceptic and why it can happen however it mainly talks about Eurosceptic integration. To relate to the question of why Eurosceptic occur. For instance, in 1973 the Labour party have voted in favor to stay in the EU with 67% however, it changed when the Labour party members views changed on the EU the trading deals, or even political and economic union. After several years in the EU, UK begun having some tension with the EU mainly because of a Euro as Britain refused to change their currency. After this there has been talks about EU exit in Britain, which became an open topic in the UK to talk about. It happens when European union or the politicians does not agree with the country and its policy or needs, and what happened with Britain, it was exciting but hard to become part of the European Nation applying “3 times and being declined twice” (UK in a changing Europe, 2019).

However, the key drives for Euroscepticism is the way that the democracy is working in the EU. UK had a big issue with immigration, policy changes is as there are requirements that UK must follow some of the EU policies. UK 2016 referendum happened because Britain wanted to take back control of its government and change their democracy the way it works for UK. However, immigration has been the main factor of why people voted out in 2016 referendum this may be because “UK citizens feel or think that migration takes a negative effect on Britain’s economy, culture, welfare it is likely that 50 per cent of UK citizens would vote out” (Europe programme, 2015). This why during 2016 referendum the people that voted out 51.9 per cent and those who have a positive attitude towards immigration would be approximately 11 per cent who would vote remain as in 2016 there was 48.1 per cent that voted to remain. However, the 1973 referendum is different because it was about “Common Market- European Economic Community”. Which they voted in favor with “52.1 per cent and against 47.9 per cent” (, 2019)- the referendum was about if UK should stay in the European Economic Community which it was decided to stay.

As part of the Euroscepticism in Britain there is a UKIP which is referendum party which does “campaigns on the European issues” (Andrew, 2013). UK being part of the UKIP is a way to participate in decision making in a party system. UKIP represents UK and helps to resolve some of the biggest problems in the world. For example, UKIP was part of decision making on whether to bomb Afghanistan. It takes part in making decisions that involved biggest issues and concluding what actions to take to resolve the issue. UKIP is another way that Europe’s power has increased because there is more EU countries participation in global decision making which make EU more powerful as it can come across as EU want to take control or to make a difference. Britain wanted independence,

Euroscepticism has now speared all over Europe, we see that people in other European countries also disagree with some legislations that EU makes them follow or even EU disagreeing with a policy f the country therefore it is not passed by the court. Either way UK is not the only EU country that is Eurosceptic. France is one of many countries that is Eurosceptic their citizens may not agree with the law or even want to have a referendum themselves. If we look at Germany where Euroscepticism is growing as “27 per cent of respondents had a negative view of the EU”, comparing to “17% six months earlier and 34% of respondents had a positive” image on the EU. It is for that same reason as UK that his is happening: the reason is immigration (Friederike, 2019). In another article the data shows that 56% of Germans have “no trust in the EU” whereas, the 30% have a slightly positive view as they trust EU a little more (European Council on Foreign Relations, 2013). The figures and the information provided above helps to identify that Britain became Eurosceptic few years after they have joined the EU. Mainly because of the rules that EU implies on to UK to follow. For instance, immigration- EU tell UK how much the maximum amount of immigrants UK can take each year and for many as for UK for example 200,000 immigrants is a lot. UK had to take them because it is required this the main reason of why people have voted out because Britain wanted to take control over their own government, policies and boarders.

To conclude we now know what Euroscepticism is and its types soft and hard Euroscepticism. We know how a little history about Euroscepticism and when UK joined the EU. We have established European integration and look at three different approaches utilitarian, EU-attitudes and degree of opposition. There has been identified what drives Euroscepticism and it has been established the main reason was immigration this also occurred in competition area when we looked at Germany to compare with UK, we briefly talked about UKIP and what it does. Now that we established that UK is not the only country who is Eurosceptic there are other countries in the EU that Euroscepticism exist or even growing.


  1. André, K. and Koen, A. (2007). Varieties of Euroscepticism and Populist Mobilization: Transforming Attitudes from Mild Euroscepticism to Harsh Eurocynicism. Acta Politica; London, [online] 42(2-3), pp.252-270. Available at: [Accessed 27 Nov. 2019].
  2. Andrew, G. (2013). In Focus: A BRIEF HISTORY OF EUROSCEPTICISM. Guardian News & Media Limited, [online] p.26. Available at: [Accessed 27 Nov. 2019].
  3. Europe programme (2015). Britain, the European Union and the Referendum: What Drives Euroscepticism. [online] Ramsgate, Kent: The Royal Institute of International Affairs, 2015, pp.1-12. Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].
  4. (2019). The Referendums of 1973 and 1975. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Nov. 2019].
  5. European Council on Foreign Relations (2013). The Continent-Wide Rise of Euroscepticism. [online] London: European Council on Foreign Relations, pp.1-10. Available at: [Accessed 27 Nov. 2019].
  6. Friederike, H. (2019). Poll: Euroscepticism on the rise in Germany. dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH, [online] p.1. Available at: [Accessed 28 Nov. 2019].
  7. Paul Taggart and Aleks Szczerbiak (2019). Euroscepticism. [Blog] Hard choices and few soft options: The implications of Brexit for Euroscepticism across Europe. Available at: [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].
  8. Toby, H. (2016). British Euroscepticism: a brief history. Guardian News & Media Limited, [online] p.24. Available at: [Accessed 27 Nov. 2019].
  9. UK in a changing Europe. (2019). When did Britain decide to join the European Union? - UK in a changing Europe. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Nov. 2019].

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