Prisoners of their own device: Brexit as a failed negotiating strategy

Benjamin Martill*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Brexit has occasioned a rightward shift in British politics as successive leaders have grappled with the difficulties of negotiating with the EU and the vicissitudes of politics in the governing Conservative party. Explanations for the hardening of Eurosceptic preferences focus on the demands of ‘taking back control’ and the polarisation of post-referendum politics as key drivers. But they have not explored the ways in which negotiation strategies shaped - rather than reflected - domestic political developments. Drawing on two-level games accounts of ‘synergistic’ bargaining, this article argues both David Cameron and Theresa May sought to leverage Eurosceptic sentiment in their respective negotiations with the EU to make it more credible the UK would walk away if its demands were rejected. While both leaders failed to convey their resolve, they inadvertently strengthened Eurosceptic constituencies back home, contributing both to the paucity - and the rejection - of their negotiated agreements.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Politics and International Relations
Early online date9 Sept 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Sept 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Brexit
  • hand-tying
  • two-level games
  • United Kingdom
  • international negotiations
  • European Union


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