Year 2020, Volume 19 , Issue 1, Pages 1 - 34 2020-06-30

Anti-Göçmen ya da Anti-AB: Birleşik Krallık'ın Brexit Kararının Siyasi Söylem Analizi
Anti-Immigration vs Anti-EU: Political Discourse Analysis of Brexit Decision of The UK

Deniz EROGLU [1] , Nergiz Özkural KÖROĞLU [2]


Birleşik Krallık’ın Avrupa Birliği ile olan ilişkileri her zaman mesafeli olmuştur. Bununla birlikte, Britanya'nın Brexit kararı olarak isimlendirilen Avrupa Birliği'nden ayrılma kararı 2016'da meydana gelen şok edici gelişmelerden biri olmuştur. İlk bakışta referandumun sonucu seçmenlerin AB'den ayrılma konusundaki tarihi kararını gösteriyor olsa da aslında bu sonuç İngiltere'deki göçmen karşıtı duyguların artmasıyla şekillenen popülist bir siyasi söylemin ürünüdür. Bu çalışmada, Brexit kampanyasının arkasındaki göçmen karşıtı söylemlerin aslında Avrupa Birliği ile daha büyük tarihsel ilişkilerin bir parçası olduğunu iddia etmekteyiz. Literatürü takiben İngiltere'nin Avrupa entegrasyonu tarihi boyunca AB'deki rolünün her zaman 'İngiliz istisnacılığından biri olduğunu ileri sürmekteyiz. Göç sorunu ise, bu istisnacılık politikasını sürdürmeyi ve AB üyeliğinden ayrılma için önemli bir fırsat sağladı, ancak bu, toplumdaki tüm “ötekilere” karşı ırkçı ve yabancı düşmanlığıyla sonuçlandı. Bu süreçte ayrılma taraftarı söylemler, toplumdaki göçmen karşıtı duygulara ve ırkçılığa neden olmuştur, ancak bunun temel amaç olduğu söylenemez. Bu yazıda, referandum sürecinde Birleşik Krallık Bağımsızlık Partisi'nin kampanyasını incelemek için Teun van Dijk tarafından geliştirilen siyasal söylem analizini kullanmaktayız. Çalışmanın asıl amacı İngiltere'nin AB'den uzun süreli olan mesafesini ortaya koymak iken makale bir bütün olarak ele alındığında, göçmen karşıtı söylemin ırkçı ve yabancı düşmanlığına nasıl sebep olduğunu göstermektir.


Abstract

United Kingdom’s relation with the European Union has been always distant. Nevertheless, Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, so-called the Brexit decision, has been one of the shocking developments happening in 2016. Prima facia the referendum result shows the electorate's historic decision to break away from the EU, however it is actually a product of a populist political discourse, which has been shaped by increasing anti-immigrant sentiments in the UK. In this paper, we argue that anti-immigrant discourses behind the Brexit campaign actually are a part of larger historical relations with the European Union. Following on from the literature, we argue that the role of the UK in the EU throughout the history of European integration has always been one of ‘British exceptionalism’. The immigration question, on the other hand, provided an important opportunity for following this exceptionalist policy and leave the EU membership, but it resulted in racist and xenophobic attacks towards all “others” within society. In this process, discourses on the leave side contributed to anti-immigrant feelings and racism within society, although we cannot say this was the main aim. In this paper, we conduct the political discourse analysis developed by Teun van Dijk to examine the campaign of the United Kingdom Independence Party during the referendum process. Taken together, these aspects of the article show how the anti-immigration discourse has contributed to the racist and xenophobic actions, while the main aim has been to finalise the UK’s long-standing distance from the EU.


Summary

United Kingdom’s relation with the European Union has been always distant. As literature mainly underlines, the UK has never been a full participant of certain policy areas; particularly in the area of ‘justice and home affair’ the UK showed limited enthusiasm to cooperate Nevertheless, Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, so-called the Brexit decision, has been one of the shocking development happening in 2016 and both EU and member state leaders expressed their disappointment. The process that started with David Cameron’s signal for the referendum in 2013 ended with a vote to leave the EU by 52% to 48%. Prima facia the referendum result shows the electorate's historic decision to break away from the EU, however it is actually the/a product of a populist political discourse, which has been shaped by increasing anti-immigrant sentiments in the UK.  In this paper, we argue that anti-immigrant discourses behind the Brexit campaign actually are a part of larger historical relations with the European Union. In this process, discourses on the leave side contributed to anti-immigrant feelings and racism within society, although we cannot say this was the main aim. In this paper, we conduct the political discourse analysis developed by Teun van Dijk to examine the campaign of the United Kingdom Independence Party during the referendum process. Although Nigel Farage was not the only figure to target migrants, his actions were the most radical and his anti-immigration discourse was quite effective therefore the analysis used his discourses during the referendum. The Brexit process is still ambiguous, but we have already witnessed the social consequences of the racist discourses of the referendum process. In this regard, the increases in racist attacks indicated in the official reports are worrying.

The study has four main parts. After the introduction part, the historical relation between the EU and the UK has indicated and distant relationship between the parts is highlighted. Following on from this part, Euroscepticism in Britain is explained and its role behind Brexit's decision is clarified as part of the main argument of this study. After this historical explanation, the main analysis started. The study is conducted by relying on Political Discourse Analysis developed by Teun van Dijk. At this point, clarification of “discourse” is somewhat important.  According to van Dijk, discourse is essential to control people’s minds, ideas, knowledge, opinions, and their personal and social representations. He also argues that discourses are significant to have power, dominance and the reproduction of racism within societies and political discourses tend to be future-oriented. The actors topicalise certain issues and use discourses to direct masses towards certain actions. During the referendum process, UKIP was not the only party supporting the leave campaign, Boris Johnson, for example, also encouraged the public to vote for Brexit.  Nigel Farage allegedly persuaded more than 17 million people to vote to leave the EU

In the analysis, we first pointed the ‘positive self-presentation’ in Farage’s discourses. Here, “WE” always represent the ‘more democratic and civilised’ one. Similar to this ‘others’ have negative meaning and correspond to threats to the coherence of the country. During the campaign, the party and the leader targeted immigrants and categorised their threat according to three aspects of life: the welfare system, the UK public’s security, and social norms.  However, Farage never accepted that he was being ‘racist’, even he argued he supported refugees by emphasising bogus/real refugee distinction. In addition, Farage’s strategy was to justify his ‘firm and fair’ immigration control for the good of an inner circle, in other words in the interests of the British people. He tried to justify his actions by arguing they were the demands of British people. On top of all these, he indicated some real/unreal numbers to persuade masses.

After discourse analysis, the article indicates how racism within society was reproduced. By showing hate crime reports that indicate attacks peaked in the post-referendum, this study underlines discourses are not inefficient tools, in fact they can pave the way for some dangerous results. Both the National Police and UN reports prove the increase in the number of racist hate crimes, especially in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

All in all, we argue that the role of the UK in the EU throughout the history of European integration has always been one of ‘British exceptionalism’. The immigration question, on the other hand, provided an important opportunity for following this exceptionalist policy and for leaving the EU membership, but it resulted in racist and xenophobic attacks towards all “others” within society. Without ignoring historical background, this study relied on data produced during the referendum process and post-referendum era and it aimed to contribute to both migration and Brexit studies literature. Since this article did not have room to account for the other parties’ discourses and the long-run effects of referendum, it would be interesting to enlarge the inquiry by adding different party discourses, describing their influence on the public and how migrants are affected today.


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Primary Language en
Subjects Social
Journal Section Articles
Authors

Orcid: 0000-0002-1823-699X
Author: Deniz EROGLU (Primary Author)
Institution: TRAKYA ÜNİVERSİTESİ, İKTİSADİ VE İDARİ BİLİMLER FAKÜLTESİ
Country: Turkey


Orcid: 0000-0003-0893-4054
Author: Nergiz Özkural KÖROĞLU
Institution: ÜSKÜDAR ÜNİVERSİTESİ
Country: Turkey


Dates

Publication Date : June 30, 2020

ISNAD Eroglu, Deniz , Köroğlu, Nergiz Özkural . "Anti-Göçmen ya da Anti-AB: Birleşik Krallık'ın Brexit Kararının Siyasi Söylem Analizi". Hitit Üniversitesi İlahiyat Fakültesi Dergisi 19 / 1 (June 2020): 1-34 . https://doi.org/10.14395/hititilahiyat.676664