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The road to BrexitA cultural perspective on British attitudes to Europe$
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Ina Habermann

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526145086

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526145093

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PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 20 September 2021

EU enlargement and the freedom of movement: imagined communities in the Conservative Party’s discourse on Europe (1997–2016)

EU enlargement and the freedom of movement: imagined communities in the Conservative Party’s discourse on Europe (1997–2016)

Chapter:
(p.69) 3 EU enlargement and the freedom of movement: imagined communities in the Conservative Party’s discourse on Europe (1997–2016)
Source:
The road to Brexit
Author(s):

Marlene Herrschaft-Iden

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7765/9781526145093.00011

The freedom of movement within the EU continues to be a hotly contested topic in British politics. This chapter argues that this debate is closely connected to the enlargement of the European Union – most notably the ‘Eastern enlargement’ in 2004. The author explores how the accession of ten new members was discussed by Conservative Party leaders in Parliament in the years preceding the Brexit referendum, asking if EU member states and their citizens were framed as part of a new ‘imagined community’ (Benedict Anderson), or as culturally different outsiders. The analysis reveals that while the support for EU enlargement endured throughout the researched years, Tory party leaders, even when in opposition, exclusively emphasised the economic benefits of enlargement for Britain. This only changed in 2011 when UKIP had successfully put immigration on the agenda. Subsequently, a major shift occurred from highlighting benefits to the national interest to calls for stricter border control and active discouragement of migration.

Keywords:   Political discourse, EU enlargement, Imagined communities, Conservative Party, David Cameron, Immigration, Parliamentary speeches

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