Family Disagreements Over Brexit

On the other hand, there are those who have been sold the Brexit dream of a bunch of desperados who make used car sellers look like models of truth and virtue. These torchbearers are like serial adulterers – no matter how many times they are unmasked, as if they had deceived us, they plead for their commitment and promise to be different tomorrow. The only imperative that has been swept off the table is the beginning of what triggered the debacle – the need for EU reform. Reforms not only to ensure that Member States do not end up in a bitter struggle like ours, but also to form a cumbersome board of directors for a rapidly changing and globalised world. “We don`t see the family now,” says a woman in her 50s who lives in Norfolk. “We haven`t seen them that often, and now I don`t want to see her again.” For others, differences of opinion on Brexit have been difficult to overcome through discussions. People have often chosen strategies to keep calm, to avoid arguments. Sometimes it meant withdrawing from an opinion, as Claudia described in her conversation with a close friend: “He said he would vote for the Labour Party, and I wanted to tell him that I don`t understand why someone in his right mind would vote for her, but I didn`t say it because I didn`t want to create controversy.” Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as numerous UK and foreign government agencies and non-profit foundations. Since the thread entered the daily lexicon, the smouldering anger has returned to cooking. Families who split up against the Brexit lines, who had so far agreed to disagree or had maintained only schtum, found the news too incendiary to ignore it.

When I asked for light stories about the family division of Brexit, those who came back were, in most cases, far from funny. A sad business advisor revealed that his mother had not seen her grandchildren for nearly two years, after having argued about the common agricultural policy. A colleague baulks on members with his family vacation contingent. The obvious methodical response to the challenges of capturing the daily and temporal flows of relational life in “Brexit Britain” is to turn to ethnography, but it is of course difficult to “hang out” in people`s private homes in the hope of having an exchange or conversation about Brexit. My latest project, funded under ESRC`s post-Brexit governance programme, which will begin in February of this year, will attempt to address this problem through a series of methods that I have described as “ethnographic encounters.”