Euroscepticism in the Brexit Era: Anxiety, Rage and Uncertainty

Friday, July 14, 2017
Gilbert Scott Conference Room - 250 (University of Glasgow)
Simona Guerra , School of History, Politics and International Relations, University of Leicester
‘Quo vadis Europa?’ addressed Joschka Fischer, in a personal speech, as German Foreign Minister at Humboldt University in Berlin, in May 2000. It was a call to Europeans, as they ‘would have to give… onwards to the completion of European integration. A step backwards, even just stand still or contentment with what has been achieved, would demand a fatal price of all EU Member States and of all those who want to become Members.’ A few years on, the EU enlarged eastwards and southeastward, but Europeans seem to lag behind or, simply, did not follow. While studies examine the spiral of Euroscepticism emerging across traditional and new media, with negativity bias and misrepresentation, the persistence and embeddedness of Euroscepticism, alternative forms and understandings of opposition to the EU, this paper investigates the role of emotions on public attitudes towards the EU. An analysis of original data on the British referendum (23 June 2016) shows that the ‘Remain’ campaign seemed not to gain momentum, while the ‘Leave’ campaign was successful in evoking citizens’ emotions. Leave voters seem to be more driven by anger, while uncertainty spreads among those who are likely to have voted ‘Remain’, and young people feel both uncertain and anxious. This paper examines the role of subjective evaluations and emotions on attitudes towards the EU and to what extent these can drive Euroscepticism and behaviours.