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Heinkelmann-Wild, Tim; Kriegmair, Lisa; Rittberger, Berthold; Zangl, Bernhard (2019): Divided they fail: the politics of wedge issues and Brexit. In: Journal of European Public Policy, Vol. 27, No. 5: pp. 723-741
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This paper develops a theory of wedge issue politics in modern democracies. It argues that wedge issues are associated with a politics of intransigence which differs from the politics of concessions that typically comes with non-wedge issues. This theory explains why Prime Minister Theresa May opted for a divisive approach to secure ratification of her Brexit agreement in the House of Commons. Due to the intra-partisan division within the Conservative Party, the government had an incentive to employ politics of intransigence. Playing a chicken game with recalcitrant party members, it relied on bargaining strategies to force party rebels to back down.' This politics of intransigence further deepened intra-partisan divisions and thus prompted both sides to harden their stance. This vicious circle not only brought the Conservative Party to a breaking point but eventually led to government failure.