A Country Divided? Polarisation and identity after Brexit


The EU referendum left Britain a deeply divided country: ‘Leavers’ and ‘Remainers’ became new political and social identities that, five years on, still appear to determine how many people view politics, and each other.

Recent research has demonstrated large social divisions along Brexit lines and a partial realignment of British party politics. Yet we know little about what shapes and reinforces these identities and why they are so central for some people, but tangential for others. And the question remains of whether these identities are fading, or changing in nature, now Britain has left the EU?  

This project, by Sara Hobolt, and James Tilley, will track the strength and emotional intensity of the leave and remain identities, alongside the size of these respective groups. It will also examine how personality traits and real-world changes affect political identities, and explore how identities are reinforced via social, geographical and social media networks.

Survey and lab experiments, repeated cross-sectional surveys and panel surveys will produce data that contribute both to the discussion about post-Brexit politics in the UK and more fundamental debates on political identity and democracy.