The UK Right-Wing Populist Parties and the Success of Brexit Referendum Campaign

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2019-63-3-21-29

T. Andreeva (,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow 117997, Russian Federation


The article is about growth of unexpected popularity of the British populist right-wing party – the UK Independence party (Ukip) and its role in the success of the idea of a UK exit from the EU (Brexit) at the British referendum on June 23, 2016. The author answers the question why in comparison with the rest of European countries the right-wing parties were not popular and successful in Great Britain in the 20th century but at the beginning of the 21st century one of these british parties has suddenly gained broad popularity and played an important pole in the outcomes of the referendum. There is a definition what parties can be called populist. There is also information about what a phenomenon of “insular psychology” is and how it prevents the British from supporting populist right- and left-wing parties. Scrutinizing key milestones of economic and political steps of different UK governments – from M. Thatcher’s governments to the Cameron-Clegg coalition government – the author highlights the interconnection between social fragmentation, marginalization of British society, the loss of its self-identification and the increasing popularity of the Ukip ideas of Brexit. The reasons are also given why Ukip has managed to persuade the major part of British society to vote for Brexit. Several of them are: the discontent of people with the UK active participation in the EU integration and the overwhelming flow of migrants from other European countries; the memory of Great Britain’s imperial history and the persistent high level of national identity which are the main source of right-wing populism and nationalism in the country; the consumerism of the main Britain’s political parties which has lead to the loss of their ability to transmit the needs and wishes of different social strata in the House of Commons; the resentment of people over the government austerity policy and the lack of confidence among the British to the expert and governmenal recipes for resolving of economic problems. The study examines two Ukip electoral manifestos and its pre-referendum campaign.


Great Britain, Brexit, EU, right-wing populist parties, UKIP


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For citation:
Andreeva T. The UK Right-Wing Populist Parties and the Success of Brexit Referendum Campaign. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2019, vol. 63, No 3, pp. 21-29.

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