West Meets East: The Case of the Big-Bang Enlargement and the Rise in UK Euroscepticism 2004-2016

Przemyslaw Biskup

The Big-Bang Enlargement of 2004-2007 has proven to be a major source of tensions in national and EU-level politics. This paper will attempt to examine the mode of development and identify specific sources of transformation of the enlargement fatigue into a highly popular Eurosceptical stance in the United Kingdom as one of the key EU members and original advocates of the widely-open borders. Importantly, Euroscepticism in the UK is a complex phenomenon to be explained both in party-politics and national-identity terms. The paper will argue that while it is a principled and well-argued stance that has been legitimising British Euroscepticsm since 1960s, it was the Big-Bang Enlargement fatigue that finally made it politically viable. The issue has become central since the 201) and 2015 General Election campaigns, which have been decisive for the future of the UKIP as a respectable party and the fate of UK's EU referendum. The issue also played a central role in the 2016 EU referendum, and its final result in support of Brexit. The paper shall focus on the comparative manifesto and party-platform analysis of the leading UK parties: the Tories, Labour, UKIP and LibDems, to be focused on issues connected to Euroscepticsm and immigration from the "new" EU countries in years 2001-2016. It will incorporate the data collected during the Warsaw University-based research project conducted in 2011-2014.





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