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Turkey’s EU accession as a factor in the 2016 Brexit referendum

Ker-Lindsay, James (2018) Turkey’s EU accession as a factor in the 2016 Brexit referendum. Turkish Studies, 19 (1). pp. 1-22. ISSN 1468-3849

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Identification Number: 10.1080/14683849.2017.1366860


In June 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Although many issues shaped the Brexit campaign, the question of Turkey’s quest for EU membership emerged as an unexpectedly strong factor. This article examines how this happened and how the debate evolved. It shows that those who advocated leaving the EU not only distorted the prospect of Turkish membership, they also misrepresented British support for the country’s accession. While the UK had indeed been a strong advocate of Turkey’s EU integration in the past, support for enlargement in general had declined in recent years due to increasing voter concerns over immigration. However, the policy of supporting Turkish membership could not be wholly repudiated by the government, even in the name of campaigning to stay in the EU, as this would have damaged Britain’s strategic relationship with Turkey.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Divisions: European Institute
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
Sets: Departments > European Institute
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2017 13:09
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2021 02:17

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