Tuesday 24 October 2017
Stijn van Kessel is co-investigator in the ESCR-funded project '28+ Perspectives on Brexit: A Guide to the Multi-Stakeholder Negotiations’ running from April 2017 until October 2018. The multi-generational, multidisciplinary and gender-balanced project team led by Professor Helen Drake of Loughborough University investigates what the governments, political parties, and peoples of the ‘EU 27’ think and feel about Brexit. The project aims to support the UK's Brexit process with high-quality research that reaches as many people as possible.
As Stijn highlights,
“The debate on Brexit in the UK is very much focused on domestic political positions and the schisms between and within the Conservative and Labour Parties. This is not very surprising given that the debate is so heated, but it often seems forgotten that actors on the other side of the negotiating table also have their own interests and preferences, which are vital to the eventual outcome of the process. Our project focuses on the debates within, and negotiating positions of, the remaining EU member states, and how these feed into the EU’s overall position.”
The project’s investigators go ‘behind the scenes’ in the national capitals and the EU's own capital city of Brussels, and through a network of partners and consultants, they are casting their net as widely as possible to identify people who want and need to know about this research.
To describe his role in the project, Stijn notes:
“Within the project, I focus in particular on Brexit in election campaigns and, relying on my expertise in this field, the way Eurosceptic populist parties capitalise on the issue. These parties typically saw the British referendum vote as a victory against the EU, and the event could be expected to bolster their own Euroscepticism. Early findings of our project, however, show that Brexit plays a marginal role in European election campaigns, and that populist parties generally refrain from hardening their Euroscepticism. Thus far, then, Brexit proves to be mainly a divisive issue in the UK itself.”