The Brexit Paradox. How Leaving the EU Just May Mobilize Pro-European Support in Britain

Friday, July 14, 2017
Gilbert Scott Conference Room - 250 (University of Glasgow)
Kristine Mitchell , Political Science, International Studies, Dickinson College
Italy has Alcide De Gasperi and Altiero Spinelli; France, Jean Monnet and Jacques Delors; Belgium Paul-Henri Spaak and Guy Verhofstadt. But prominent, ardent pro-Europeanists, willing to make the pro-integration—even the federal—case for Europe have been hard to find in British national debate. Ironically, the shock referendum result has inspired Britain’s “closet Europeanists” to declare themselves. In petitions, marches, and other demonstrations, significant numbers of British citizens have joined forces to resist “Brexit”. The paradox of Brexit just may be that, by emboldening a long-subdued pro-European constituency, preparing Britain to leave the EU may just give rise to its first prominent Euro-federalists: figures prepared to argue persuasively and passionately for a British future in an integrating Europe. Could a “British Delors” or an “English Spinelli” yet convince Britons that their future lies with the EU?