Boris, Brexit and Europe: An Interpretation

Lecture | September 3 | 12-1 p.m. | 201 Moses Hall

 Matt Beech, Founding Director of the Centre for British Politics at the University of Hull & Senior Fellow at the Institute of European Studies, UC Berkeley

 Institute of European Studies, Berkeley Law, International Group, Center for British Studies

Boris Johnson’s election as Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party, and therefore, as Prime Minister was a foregone conclusion to close observers of British politics. Where there is a disruption in the business of Westminster is the fact that the United Kingdom has its first Eurosceptic Prime Minister since Mrs Thatcher delivered her Bruges Speech. The long and winding road to Brexit has presented a further obstacle, a primus inter pares who campaigned and voted for the United Kingdom to leave the federal project of the European Union.

Johnson’s Eurosceptic credentials have been contested and some argue his ultimate commitment is to a pragmatic self-interest. Be that as it may, his administration’s preference for a Free Trade Agreement and its willingness to exit the European Union without a deal is genuine. In the opinion polls the Conservatives continue to hold a double-digit lead over Labour (YouGov, 2019) whilst the Leader of the Opposition’s personal ratings compare poorly to Johnson’s. After the 29the March deadline to exit the EU passed and momentum seemingly with a Remain dominated Parliament, in the space of a few short months, the likelihood of the United Kingdom remaining in the European Union has decreased.

In this public lecture, IES Senior Fellow Dr Matt Beech, will offer an interpretation of recent events in the Conservative and Unionist Party and examine their significance for British, European and American politics.

Dr Matt Beech FRHistS, FRSA is founding Director of the Centre for British Politics at the University of Hull. He is Senior Fellow at the Institute of European Studies, UC Berkeley and Associate Member of the Centre de Recherches en Civilisation Britannique, Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3. He was a Thorneycroft Memorial Scholar at the University of Southampton, where he studied for his PhD under Professor the Lord Plant of Highfield.

Dr Beech has been awarded fellowships at the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Society of Arts and is a Member of the Heterodox Academy. He has spoken at the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the California Chamber of Commerce, the Council of State Governments - West, UC Berkeley, Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3, University of Adelaide and Hitotsubashi University.

Dr Beech has had written evidence published by the House of Lords Select Committee on Soft Power and the UK’s Influence and by the Committee on Standards in Public Life report into donations and funding of British political parties. He has appeared in The Times, The Washington Post, Financial Times, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Le Figaro, Les Echos and on programs for BBC Radio 4, Radio France International, BBC Parliament, and CNBC Asia.

 menghini@berkeley.edu