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Title: The Conservative Party, policy change, and Europe : 1997-2016
Authors: Martin, Tristan
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis provides an analysis of policy change in the Conservative Party on the question of European integration between 1997 and 2016. The thesis answers two principal research questions. Firstly, in what ways did European policy change in the Conservative Party between May 1997 and February 2016? Secondly, what caused these changes in European policy and how can they be understood in relation to exogenous and endogenous factors? It answers these questions through a qualitative analysis of 36 original interviews with party elites, 119 speeches, 267 parliamentary statements, 290 newspaper articles, and nine manifestoes. Additionally, it has drawn on secondary quantitative survey data from Ipsos Mori, YouGov, and the British Social Attitudes Survey. It concludes that policy has moved incrementally over the period from a minimalist-Soft Eurosceptic position to a more revisionist-Soft Eurosceptic position with Hard Eurosceptic elements. Policy experienced periods of both stability and volatility depending on the internal and external political context. Theoretically, it advances an approach centred upon new institutionalist theories. It argues this better accounts for the underlying processes and mechanisms behind policy change in political parties. In doing so it provides an integrated approach which can be applied to the future study of policy change in other political parties. This thesis makes an original contribution to both the literature on the Conservative Party and European integration, and policy change in political parties more widely. It does so by providing an empirically systematic and theoretically informed analysis of the development of European policy, an approach lacking in previous research, covering a period in which changes in policy over Europe in the Conservative Party would contribute directly to the June 2016 EU Referendum. As such, it also makes an important contribution to our understanding of the UK’s historical path towards Brexit.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

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