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Brexit – Causes, Consequences and Meanings

5. Why did people vote for Leave?

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about why Leave won the EU referendum, focusing in particular on: (i) the long-standing Euroscepticism in British society, the idea that Britain was something of an ‘awkward partner’ in the EU; (ii) the importance of looking at the data at a sufficiently granular level to draw out important (and surprising) correlations; (iii) the effectiveness of the Leave campaign and its relentless focus on immigration; (iv) the relative attractiveness of personalities such as Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, compared to David Cameron and George Osborne; and (v) the relative unattractiveness of the European Union following its expansion (2004, 2007), sovereign debt crisis (2010-12) and migrant crisis (2015).


In this course, Dr Tim Oliver (Loughborough University) explores Brexit in three broad areas – causes, consequences and meanings. In the first two modules, we provide a general introduction to the course as a whole as well as an outline of the proposed structure.

Between the third and eighth modules, we think about the causes of Brexit. This section of the course includes a brief introduction (in the third module) followed by five modules on five key questions: (i) why did David Cameron call an in-out referendum on Europe?; (ii) why did people want the UK leave the EU?; (iii) why did people want the UK to remain a member of the EU?; (iv) was the UK destined to leave the EU?; and (v) what effect has Britain had on the EU (and vice versa)?

Between the ninth and fourteenth modules, we think about the consequences of Brexit. Again, there is a brief introduction (in the ninth module) followed by five key questions: (i) what impact has Brexit had on UK-EU relations?; (ii) what impact has Brexit had on British politics?; (iii) has Brexit solved Britain’s European question?; (iv) what does Brexit mean for the EU and the rest of the world?; and (v) who are Brexit’s ‘winners’ and ‘losers’?

Between the fifteenth and twentieth modules, we think about the meanings of Brexit. The questions this time are: (i) what does Brexit mean?; (ii) what theoretical approaches best explain Brexit?; (iii) how can we measure the success and failure of Brexit?; (iv) is Brexit a ‘critical juncture’ in British political history?; and (v) Is Brexit unique to the UK?

Finally, in the twenty-first and concluding module, we offer seven key rules when discussing Brexit.


Dr Tim Oliver is Senior Lecturer for the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance at Loughborough University London. His research and teaching currently focus on Brexit, British politics, London, European politics, international relations and international security. He has combined work in academia (LSE, UCL, NYU and the EUI) with work in political institutions (the House of Lords and the European Parliament), think tanks (in Berlin, Washington D.C. and London) and with the British military.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Oliver, T. (2020, March 10). Brexit – Causes, Consequences and Meanings - Why did people vote for Leave? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Oliver, Tim. "Brexit – Causes, Consequences and Meanings – Why did people vote for Leave?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 10 Mar 2020,