Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Professor Seth Jolly
Professor Alan Allport
Citizenship and Public Affairs
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Comparative Politics | International Relations | Other Political Science | Political Science
I discuss two questions pertaining to the relationship of the United Kingdom and Europe: why has support always been lower in the United Kingdom for Europe than other member states and why is support for Europe in decline?
To show the low support as well as the decline in support, I look at two referendums in the UK on membership, one in 1975 and another in 2011 that show two end points for how low support has fallen. I then discuss the history of the United Kingdom and her relationship with the European institutions to lay the foundation of the Euroskeptic tendencies exhibited in policies and attitudes towards Europe. To definitively show this low support and decline, I look at surveys from the Eurobarometer. Support generally declines across Europe, but the UK is consistently lower than the rest of the EU27.
In analyzing the low support in the UK, I examine four theories of why some individuals support European integration more than others. I take these and expand them to the United Kingdom on a national level. I examine theories of cognitive ability, wealth per capita, the Silent Revolution, and political partisanship. None of these theories proves why support is lower definitively and I argue that the imperial history of the UK and their experience in World War Ii are the main cause of the support being lower.
As for the second question, I look at the evolution of the European institutions from a loose economic union to now include social and political policies. I argue that the EU as it is today is not an institution that the United Kingdom would be as enthusiastic about being a member of.
Stemming from this, the future of the United Kingdom in Europe is not completely secure. While I do not think that the United Kingdom will soon or ever leave the EU, yet given the present economic crisis in the EU, the future is uncertain and British politicians need to tread carefully.
Walsh, Kayla, "Foundations of Euroskepticism in the United Kingdom: Declining Support for the European Union" (2012). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 190.
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