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16.01.19

After Brexit vote: “New elections could be a chance for clear solution”

After the Brexit vote in the British parliament failed, Prof. Dr. Stefan Schieren, historian and political scientist at the KU, now thinks that the only sensible step would be for the government to resign and new elections to be held. “This would offer the possibility of rearranging the structures and come to a clear – if need be also a cross-party – solution.” In my view and given the current circumstances, the solution would be an exit from Brexit – although this is rather unlikely.”


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New elections would take the strengths of the political system seriously, for the starting point of the crisis was not Great Britain’s political system, but the referendum. However, this would mean having to postpone the departure date, an endeavor which might be hard to convince the European side of. In addition, the governing Conservative Party would have a fundamental interest in maintaining the status quo, because every change could potentially lead to a split within the party. This was also the main reason, why Prime Minister Theresa May was still in office despite all failures.

“The 2016 referendum was followed by a very vague mission. The conditions of a departure were completely unclear at that time. A question of such complex nature cannot be decided by a simple yes or no. The government should have presented a clear negotiation result to be put to the vote”, says Schieren. As an alternative to new elections, it would basically also be possible that all members of parliament take over across party lines and work towards a solution in the form of a second Brexit referendum. Such a referendum, however, could exacerbate the division within the country and undermine the people’s confidence in their parties and the political system as a whole and could, in the worst case, even lead to a constitutional crisis. Schieren compares the current situation to a Greek tragedy: “Every solution in sight will lead to upheavals in any case – in Great Britain even more than within the European Union.”

You will also find an interview with Stefan Schieren on the Brexit chaos on the KU’s Youtube channel.


Information on interviewee: The historian and political scientist Prof. Dr. Stefan Schieren is Dean of the Faculty of Social Work at the KU. His research focuses on state and politics in Great Britain, European and national social policy and local politics. He is a member of the board at the Prinz-Albert-Gesellschaft, an association supporting research on scientific, cultural and political aspects of German-UK relations. Furthermore, Schieren is a member of the German Association for British Studies.