Skip to main content
Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Brexit and the perils of “Europeanised' migration


Moving beyond short-term public opinion accounts for Brexit this article considers how Britain's historic policy and political dynamics on migration led to the outcome of the EU referendum and how the latter is likely to transform current immigration policies. To do so, we explore historic and theoretical tensions in UK migration policy and politics over the last six decades. We show how these unresolved tensions allowed Eurosceptics to harness negative attitudes to the increasingly salient issue of immigration. We argue that a sufficient proportion of the UK's elite and electorate proved unable and unwilling to subordinate its desire for entirely domestic control' over immigration to the EU's right-based regime, let alone see fellow EU citizens in the UK as anything other than immigrants, ultimately giving Leave victory. The referendum process and outcome exposed the debate about free movement and migration to much wider public scrutiny and so raised more profound questions about the future of the British economy and the political model necessary to sustain it. We argue that, with the Brexit negotiations under constant public scrutiny a new, largely immovable parameter was set by the EU referendum result for the medium term that seems likely to lead to a decline in Europeanised' migration policy in the UK.

You might also be interested in :

Grand theories of European integration in the twenty-first century Introduction
This paper sets the scene for a JEPP special issue entitled Re-engaging Grand Theory: European Integration in the Twenty-first Century.' The special issue engages three theories - neofunctionalism, intergovernmentalism…


Journal of European Public Policy


Article meta

Country / region covered

Year of Publication

Source type