Constance Woollen

Thesis title:

Conservative Party discourse on Europe: do Conservative Parliamentarians represent the party at the grassroots?


Brexit is arguably the greatest political challenge the United Kingdom (UK) has faced since the Second World War. The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU) has given the Conservative Government the opportunity to shape politics for years to come, through negotiations with the EU and new legislation in Parliament. With such far-reaching effects, and with democracy in the UK depending on the representation of public preferences by Members of Parliament (MPs), it is imperative that the final Brexit deal is responsive to the voters.The project will aim to answer the following research questions:To what extent does the parliamentary Conservative Party represent the views of the party members in their discourse on Europe? If party members are represented by Conservative MPs, are they represented in a symbolic and/or a substantive manner? If party members’ views on Europe are not represented by Conservative MPs, what are the main reasons for this?To what extent do patterns of representation vary geographically in England?This study is pertinent at a time when the Conservative Party is deeply divided over Britain’s future relationship with the EU, and a disconnect between the party in public office and at the grassroots has been found. It matters not only for the consequences of these divisions on party unity, but also the implications that the divisions are likely to have on the representation of party members by the elites. If MPs are not representative even of their local party members, this has major implications for the democratic nature of the future EU-UK relationship.

First supervisor:

Isabelle Hertner


13 – Politics, Public Policy & Governance