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  • Author: Mark Leonard
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The shock of covid-19 in Britain may end the culture-wars politics set off by the Brexit referendum – which split the country between Leave and Remain, town and city, old and young. Many people had lent their votes to Boris Johnson’s Conservatives for cultural reasons, in spite of the fact that they were closer to the opposition Labour Party on economic issues. Covid-19 might cause a rethink, as voters expect competence from the government. Counterintuitively, both Leavers and Remainers are open to a leftist domestic agenda and greater cooperation with international partners – issues on which Labour is normally strong. Covid-19 has caused voters to take a dimmer view of previously touted post-Brexit trade partners like the US and China. They think more highly of countries such as Germany. The battleground will be ‘Red Wall defectors’ – voters who gave Johnson his 2019 general election landslide but who are reassessing what matters to them after Brexit. A politics divided along the lines of Leavers and Remainers could disappear as quickly as it appeared – but the Conservatives may nevertheless attempt to stoke the divisions of 2016 that secured them Brexit.
  • Topic: Politics, European Union, Brexit, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe