Renegotiating Terms of EU Membership Prior to the Referendum

  • Andrew Glencross
Part of the Palgrave Studies in European Union Politics book series (PSEUP)


To improve the chances of winning the referendum, David Cameron sought to renegotiate the UK’s terms of EU membership. This gambit mimicked the successful strategy of Harold Wilson in the 1975 EEC referendum. Yet the politicization of intra-EU migration meant the onus was on obtaining concessions in this policy area. Traditional Euroscepticism impugning the sovereignty-constraining effects of EU competences tapped into a groundswell of anti-immigration sentiment determined to see the end of the free movement of people principle. A British vote to remain in the EU was premised on the ability of the Conservative government to head off this alliance. But the renegotiation outcome did nothing to make this possible because it was impossible to dilute the EU commitment to free movement of people.


Renegotiation David Cameron EU integration EU reform Red card Migration 


  1. Butler, David, and Uwe Kitzinger. 1976. The 1975 Referendum. London: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cooper, Robert. 2012. Britain and Europe. International Affairs 88(6): 1191–1203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dinan, Desmond. 2004. Europe Recast: A History of European Union. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.Google Scholar
  4. European Council. 2014. (26/27 June). Conclusions. Available at Accessed 6 Aug 2016.
  5. European Council. 2016. (18/19 February). Conclusions. Available at Accessed 6 Aug 2016.
  6. Ford, Mark, and Matthew J Goodwin. 2014. Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Geoghegan, Peter. 2014. The People’s Referendum: Why Scotland Will Never Be the Same Again. Edinburgh: Luath Press.Google Scholar
  8. George, Stephen. 1998. An Awkward Partner: Britain in the European Community. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Glencross, Andrew. 2015a. Why a British Referendum on EU membership Will Not Solve the Europe Question. International Affairs 91(2): 303–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Haeussler, Mathias. 2015. A Pyrrhic Victory: Harold Wilson, Helmut Schmidt, and the British Renegotiation of EC Membership, 1974–1975. The International History Review 37(4): 768–789. Available at Accessed 6 Aug 2016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hix, Simon, Sara Hagemann, and Doru Frantescu. 2016. Would Brexit Matter? The UK’s Voting Record in the Council and European Parliament. VoteWatch Europe. Available at Accessed 6 Aug 2016.
  12. House of Commons Library. 2016. Statistics on Migrants and Benefits. Briefing Paper Number CBP 7445. Available at
  13. Ivaldi, Gilles. 2006. Beyond France’s 2005 Referendum on the European Constitutional Treaty: Second-Order Model, Anti-Establishment Attitudes and the End of the Alternative European Utopia. West European Politics 29(1): 47–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jennings, Will, and Gerry Stoker. 2016. The Bifurcation of Politics: Two Englands. The Political Quarterly. Available at Accessed 6 Aug 2016.Google Scholar
  15. Le Monde. 2015. Britain Beware, ‘Brexit’ Could Be Your Waterloo! Le Monde, 18 June. Available at Accessed 6 Aug 2016.
  16. Schimmelfennig, Frank. 2016. A Differentiated Leap Forward: Spillover, Path-Dependency, and Graded Membership in European Banking Regulation. West European Politics 39(3): 483–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Glencross
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Politics and International RelationsAston UniversityBirminghamUnited Kingdom

Personalised recommendations