Conservative Party of the UK and the European Union: from Euroscepticism to Brexit

Işık, Fatih
The Conservative Party of the United Kingdom has shown differing attitudes towards European integration. Conservative Governments in the early 1960’s strived for UK’s membership to the European Economic Community (EEC). Membership to the EEC was eventually achieved with a Conservative government led by Prime Minister Edward Heath in January 1973 and the Conservatives supported membership to the EEC in the 1975 referendum. However, aversion towards further European integration (i.e. Euroscepticism) started to become more prominent in the Conservative Party during the premiership of Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990) and onwards. Rising Euroscepticism continued in the Conservatives under subsequent party leaders John Major, William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Howard and David Cameron. Prime Minister Cameron vowed to hold a referendum regarding the UK's membership to the EU, which resulted in a leave the EU vote (i.e. Brexit) in 2016. The recent two Conservative Governments, led by Prime Ministers Theresa May and Boris Johnson, have vowed to fulfil the leave result. This thesis shall present the divisions in the Conservative Party regarding European integration. It shall explore the reasons for rising Euroscepticism in the Conservative Party and the debates between the Pro-Europeanist and the Eurosceptic factions from the 1950’s to today.


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Citation Formats
F. Işık, “Conservative Party of the UK and the European Union: from Euroscepticism to Brexit,” Thesis (M.S.) -- Graduate School of Social Sciences. International Relations., Middle East Technical University, 2020.