Call for Papers: The political economy of Brexit: Implications for the labour market, free movement and the UK welfare state



16 September 2016, University of Sheffield

This workshop analyses the possible implications of the Brexit vote for three key domestic policy areas: free movement, the labour market and welfare provision. Brexit is likely to have profound consequences for each of these areas. For example, many employment rights in the UK are underpinned by European directives. Similarly, the free movement of EU nationals has re-shaped the UK labour market in important ways. The workshop will synthesise existing research in these areas in order to build a platform for future research collaborations on the political economy of Brexit. In addition, the workshop will place Brexit in a broader comparative context. In particular, it will locate Brexit within the broader context of protracted social, political and economic crisis and possible disintegration within the Eurozone and the EU. The workshop will bring together academics working within a broad range of disciplines, including political science, social policy, law, industrial relations, sociology, history and comparative political economy.

Keynote Speaker: Professor Ben Rosamond, Copenhagen Business School

Indicative Questions:

  • In what ways has EU social policy influenced employment rights in the UK? Are these protections now under threat?
  • What does Brexit mean for the remaining EU member states? How might it affect the integration process and prospects for the ‘Social Europe’ agenda?
  • Which sectors of the UK economy are most dependent on the European Single Market and which are most vulnerable to Brexit? What implications might Brexit have for the structure of the British labour market and economy more broadly?
  • How have trade unions positioned themselves in relation to the EU historically and how might their strategies change in a post-Brexit environment?
  • What does existing research tell us about the impact of free movement on the British labour market and economy? If restrictions are placed on free movement during the UK’s negotiations with the EU, what implications might this have for the British economy and social policy?
  • Has free movement undermined the bargaining power and the wages of low-paid workers in the UK?
  • What should the Left’s position be on the question of free movement in the UK and the EU more broadly?
  • What implications might the Brexit vote have for welfare provision in the UK? Will it lead to an increase in spending or welfare retrenchment?


  1. to bring together existing research on labour markets, free movement and welfare provision in the UK and in the EU more broadly and to discuss the implications of Brexit for these areas;
  2. to build a platform for future collaborative research on the UK’s post-referendum political economy;
  3. to introduce academics to SPERI’s new ‘European Capitalism and the Crises of the EU’ research programme.

Travel funding from within the UK and some accommodation expenses will be made available to confirmed participants.

Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words to by 5th August 2016 if you are interested in presenting a paper at the workshop.

For further information please contact Scott Lavery ( cc Robert Pye (

Project: Britain and Europe: The political economy of ‘Brexit’, funded by the White Rose Consortium’s Collaboration Fund. Led by the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI)

Download the Call for Papers.