Brexit: TEDx Birmingham


October 2015, Birmingham


Within a couple of hours of it being announced that we had voted to leave the European Union, the leading campaigners for Brexit had backtracked on some of their key pledges. Most notably, the pledge that leaving the EU would make an additional £350 million a week available to the NHS. Alongside the political misrepresentations prior to the vote, there have also been a number of problematic claims made after it. The most significant, perhaps, being that Brexit was delivered by the left-behind, northern, white working class who had suffered disproportionately from processes of economic globalization


Locating Brexit



March 2017, Paris 


The UK referendum on continued membership of the European Union, which produced a victory for the ‘Leave’ campaign, was less a debate on the pros and cons of membership than a proxy for discussions about race and migration; specifically, who belonged and had rights (or should have rights) and who didn’t (and shouldn’t). One of the key slogans of those arguing for exit from the EU was: ‘we want our country back’. The racialized discourses at work here were not only present explicitly in the politics of the event; they are implicit in much social scientific analysis. Populist political claims are mirrored by an equivalent social scientific ‘presentism’ that elides proper historical context. In this presentation, I discuss the importance of understanding Brexit in the context of an historical sociological understanding that would enable us to make better sense of the politics of the present.