Rising inequality in the UK and the political economy of Brexit

Lessons for policy

Policy Brief

26/07/2016

The EU Referendum in the UK on 23 June laid bare long existing divisions in the country. A very divisive campaign for leave deepened the scars in the society further. After decades of deindustrialization, rising inequality, deteriorating working conditions, loss of voice, followed by the Great Recession and austerity, the majority of the working people felt the only way to express their discontent about their living and working conditions is to vote to leave. Throughout the campaign, the leave side diverted their discontent to a scapegoat of immigration and fuelled xenophobia. Various Brexit campaigns created an illusion that conditions can only improve if Britain takes control of its borders, which they claimed to be impossible as a member of the European Union. According to survey evidence fears of immigration are more pronounced among voters in a more vulnerable position in the labour market, and in the post-industrial north-eastern towns, with also a clear divide between generations, with around two-thirds of the over 55s voting to leave and 70 per cent of the under 25s voting to stay (Hobolt, 2016; Ashcroft, 2016; Burn-Murdoch, 2016). The disenfranchised communities did not feel that they have anything more to lose due to the economic risks of Brexit or loss of workers’ rights under a conservative exit scenario, which sadly is likely to prove wrong.

Read policy brief

Find all related publications
Publications
17/05/2024

Growing remittance industry

Progressive Migration Group series
14/05/2024

Tightening welfare belts again?

FEPS YAN Series
14/05/2024

Inequality and populism

FEPS YAN Series
13/05/2024

Toward a progressive geopolitical EU

FEPS YAN Series
Find all related Progressive Post
Progressive Post
16/05/2024

We need a ‘Marshall Plan’ for housing

16/05/2024

Addressing Europe’s housing crisis

By increasing supply, sound housing policies and thinking beyond housing
08/05/2024

Strengthening territorial cohesion and  the single market

Find all related events
Events
Upcoming
29/05/2024
Szeged, Hungary

Taxing the richest in the EU

For a just, social and green transition in Hungary
Past
21/05/2024
Expert meeting, FEPS HQ

Social Europe in the new EU Economic Governance framework

Integrating social investment & social policy actors
02/05/2024
Bratislava, Slovakia

Social and environmental justice in the EU

Who will pay for it?
Find all related news
News
19/04/2024

FEPS welcomes the signing of the La Hulpe Declaration

05/04/2024

FEPS supports the declaration of Portimão calling for affordable housing in the EU

Affordable housing needs Europe, Europe needs affordable housing
07/03/2024

Call for videos – Your Call to Europe

This call closed on 24/03/2024
24/01/2024

Spanish Minister Teresa Ribera awarded FEPS ‘Progressive Person of the Year’

Find all related in the media
In the media

Ласло Андор: Европа трябва да създаде нов модел за икономически растеж

by dir.bg 14/03/2024
'Europe must create a new model for economic growth'. Interview by Laszlo Andor, FEPS Secretary General

FEPS President at Euronews talk-show ‘Brussels, my love?’

by Euronews 15/01/2024
Panellists discussed topics including EU fiscal rules reform, German farmer's protests, and the decision of Charles Michel to quit his job early to run for MEP.

Is it time to turn down the volume on the migration debate?

by IPS Journal 13/11/2023
IPS Journal article about FEPS policy briefs 'Communicating on migration'

Socialistas europeos reclaman que la Europa social sea la prioridad de la futura Comisión

by EuroEFE 09/11/2023
'European socialists demand that social Europe be the priority for the future Commission' article about the 'Champions of progress: Progressives go the extra mile for Social Europe!' side event organized by FEPS and PES