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The UK and the European Union

4. Brexit

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about what Brexit tells us about the relationship between the EU and the UK, focusing in particular on: (i) debunking the argument that the UK is a ‘special’ case and emphasising instead that the 2016 Referendum was brought about by a concentration of factors that can be found in other member states; (ii) British politicians’ lack of engagement with the EU and the success of Eurosceptics in controlling the debate about membership, particularly since the Treaty of Maastricht (1992); (iii) relatedly, the tendency for politicians to treat EU membership as a party political issue; and (iv) the complexity of the UK’s entanglement with the EU and the unfolding ramifications of this entanglement as the Brexit process continues.


In this lecture, Dr Simon Usherwood (University of Surrey) thinks about the European Union and its relationship with the United Kingdom, focusing in particular on Brexit. We begin in the first module by thinking about how the EU came into being, paying close regard to the window of opportunity for European integration that arose after the Second World War. In the second module, we think about the complex question of how best to understand the EU, introducing the ideas of ‘intergovernmentalism’ and ‘supranationalism’ to help us make sense of its structure and operation. We then move on in the third module to consider the impact of EU membership on UK political life, using this as a lens to cast light on EU-member state interactions more broadly. Finally, in the fourth module, we address the thorny question of Brexit, thinking in particular about the reasons why the 2016 Referendum was called, the sheer complexity of the UK’s entanglement with Europe, and what this means for the future.


Dr Simon Usherwood is Reader in Politics at the University of Surrey. He has been researching euroscepticism since the late 1990s. His work considers broad theoretical and practical questions about this phenomenon, as well as more specific work on the UK, on UK-EU relations, on the role of pressure groups and on the media profile of eurosceptics.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Usherwood, S. (2019, September 26). The UK and the European Union - Brexit [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Usherwood, S. "The UK and the European Union – Brexit." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Sep 2019,