Report finds Brexit identities stronger than party identities

25 Jan 19

Report finds Brexit identities stronger than party identities

The report, edited by Nuffield Associate Member Anand Menon, includes contributions by Nuffield Fellows including Geoffrey Evans and Anthony Heath.

The report Brexit and Public Opinion 2019, published by The UK in a Changing Europe project at King’s College London, provides a comprehensive and up-to-date guide to public opinion on the key issues around Brexit.

A key finding of the report came from Nuffield Official Fellow Geoffrey Evans’ work with Balliol DPhil student Florian Schaffner. They found that the UK is increasingly polarised by Brexit identities, and that Brexit identities have become stronger than party identities.

Director of the Centre for Social Investigation and Emeritus Fellow Anthony Heath also wrote one of the chapters in the report with Lindsay Richards, Postdoctoral Researcher at CSI. They found that those who see themselves as predominately Scottish or Irish are more inclined to support Remain, whereas, among those who describe themselves as English not British, there is strong support not only for Brexit but for a ‘hard’ Brexit.

On the publication of the report, Director of The UK in a Changing Europe and Nuffield Associate Member Anand Menon said:

“This report highlights the fundamental divisions Brexit has created, and in some cases exacerbated, in British society. New Brexit identities have emerged, which seem to be stronger than party identities. Divisions are also clear on national lines, as well as between MPs and their respective party members.”

Contributions from other Nuffield members and former members in the report include:

  • Former Fellow John Curtice (Research Fellow 1981-3; Associate Member 1983-4), who shows that there has been no decisive shift in public opinion in favour of another referendum.
  • Alumnus Rob Ford (DPhil Sociology 2003), who shows that the number of people who see immigration as one of the most important issues facing the country has more than halved to the lowest level since 2001. Rob also examines public opinions on ‘no deal’ scenarios in a separate chapter.
  • Associate Member and former Research Fellow James Tilley (DPhil Sociology 1998; Research Fellow 2002-4), who contributed a chapter on ‘The Brexit identity divide’ with Sara Hobolt from the London School of Economics.

The report was picked up by several news outlets on its release on Tuesday 22 January. Geoff Evans' work was covered in The Guardian’s ‘Politics live’ feed (update at 10.52am), and Geoff was also interviewed on The Eddie Mair Show on LBC.