#Brexit identities: how Leave versus Remain replaced Conservative versus Labour affiliations of #British voters

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أخر تحديث : jeudi 24 janvier 2019 - 3:40
#Brexit identities: how Leave versus Remain replaced Conservative versus Labour affiliations of #British voters

British politics was relatively stable in the post-war decades, and voters’ strong party loyalties were influenced by their place in society. More recently, there has been a marked decline in the number of people identifying with a political party, and in the strength of that attachment

Now, our new research for a report on Brexit and Public Opinion by the UK in a Changing Europe research group, shows that Brexit has quickly and dramatically replaced the traditional party allegiances of Conservative and Labour in the hearts and minds of voters. While this “Brexit identity” has reinvigorated political involvement, it has come at a cost, cementing divisions in society at the moment when the prime minister has professed a desire to heal them

We wanted to find out whether Leave versus Remain is now a more prominent source of identity than Conservative versus Labour, and the impact the EU referendum had on this. We did this by asking respondents in all waves of the British Election panel studyundertaken since spring 2016 whether: “In the EU referendum debate, do you think of yourself as closer to either the Remain or Leave side?” We then asked the same questions about respondents’ thoughts and feelings towards all of the political parties.

At the start of the referendum campaign in April 2016, the idea of being Leave versus Remain was, unsurprisingly, not prominent, especially for Remainers. Leavers had already developed a sense of their distinctiveness, perhaps because they were clearly outside of mainstream politics – no major party had endorsed leaving the EU. However, the number of Remainers expressing an identity grew following the referendum result and vice versa for Leavers

Tellingly, even in mid-2018, two years after the referendum, only just over 6% of people did not identify with either Leave or Remain. Compare this with party political attachment, where the percentage with no party identity increased from 18% to 21.5% over same period – in part due to the decline of UKIP. Only one in 16 people don’t have a Brexit identity whereas more than one in five have no party identity

Remain identity strengthening

At the beginning of the referendum campaign, Leave supporters tended to identify with the Leave campaign more strongly than Remainers did with the Remain one. From the last month of the campaign onwards, however, the extent to which people said they strongly identified with either side increased markedly. By the end of the campaign the two sides had almost equal strengths of identity. Most striking, however, is how the strength of the Remain identity increased dramatically following the referendum while the strength of Leave dropped slightly. Since then the average level of identification with Leave or Remain has remained higher than the strength of identification with any political party

The way Leave and Remain has become embedded became even more pronounced when we looked at the social and psychological markers of identity – and we found a polarisation of identities after the referendum

When asked whether: “When I speak about the Remain/Leave side, I usually say ‘we’ instead of ‘they’”, the proportion of Leavers agreeing leapt from 44% to 65% after the referendum. The proportion of Remainers agreeing rose even more substantially, from 35% to 70%

By theconversation.com
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