Date of Award
Josef Korbel School of International Studies
Frank Laird, Ph.D.
Blair, Britain, Cross-cutting cleavages, Euro, European Monetary Union, Thatcher
This study examines what effect the movement towards deeper economic and political integration in the EU has had on the domestic politics of a member country, Britain. This study argues that this pressure to integrate by joining the single currency, or European Monetary Union (EMU), and its predecessor, the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), has exacerbated the cross-cutting cleavages inherent in British party politics, making them potentially dangerous to party unity and to successful governance by making party management more challenging. The pressure imposed by the EU on British parties and governments to follow the path of economic integration to its fullest extent exacerbates these cross-cutting cleavages in each time period examined in this study, forcing successive British politicians to seek an accommodation between pro- and anti-euro forces in their own parties.
In particular this study examines two factors that condition British politicians' reaction to the pressure to join the euro and the impact that the euro cross-cutting cleavage has had on the parties and on British government. First, formal British political institutions, particularly the size of a ruling party's parliamentary majority but also the First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system, shape the range of decisions on euro policy available to a political actor. Second, in keeping with the reiterated problem solving methodology employed in this study, this work considers the role of actors in managing the euro cross-cutting cleavages, especially prime ministers and/or party leaders and how they use their informal powers to manage their party. Examining how these factors and their interaction with the EU-level integration pressure impacted the decisions Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair, and Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock, made regarding euro policy provides insight into what range of options a future prime minister may enjoy when the pressure to integrate rises again.
Finally, this work examines the broader repercussions of the EU impetus to deeper integration in other member countries currently struggling to balance the EU-level imperative of economic integration with domestic political realities. The presence of euroskeptic countries such as Britain gives voice within the EU to alternatives to the dominant imperative to deeper integration whatever the cost. Thus, Britain's protracted political agonizing over whether to join the euro has given the country a broader legacy in Europe by making the debate over economic and monetary union a more open and democratic one, allowing this "reluctant European" a key role in shaping the future of the European Union.
Froning, Denise, "The Impact of European Monetary Integration on the Labour and Conservative Parties in Britain, 1983-2003" (2011). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 214.
Received from ProQuest
International relations, Economics, Political Science