Seeds of systemic corruption in the post-Brexit UK

Publication Date02 Jul 2019
AuthorLorenzo Pasculli
SubjectFinancial risk/company failure,Financial crime
Seeds of systemic corruption in
the post-Brexit UK
Lorenzo Pasculli
Department of Law, Kingston University, London, UK and
Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication,
Imperial College London, London, UK
Purpose This study aims to assess the risks of systematisation of corruption in the UK following the
Brexit referendum.
Design/methodology/approach The study applies theoretical and empirical ndings of
criminological, social,psychological, economic and legal research on the causesof systemic corruption to the
socio-institutionaldevelopments following the Leave vote.
Findings The events surrounding the referendum conrm that the resort to corrupt practices is
normalised in certain sectorsof the British institutions, business and media and that socio-politicalprocesses
activated by the Leave vote and inadequate UK policymakingand lawmaking can aggravate the situational
and socio-psychological enablers of systemic corruption. Effective solutions must go beyond mere anti-
corruptionlaws and address deeper social issues.
Research limitations/implications The study focuses only on some of the major situational and
socio-psychological causesof systemic corruption, including the unintended criminogeniceffects of the law.
More interdisciplinaryresearch is required to address othercauses, such as historical and cultural factors.
Practical implications The ndings of this study can inspirepractical solutions by policymakers and
future research.
Social implications The study contributes to raising social awareness and stimulating public discussion
on systemic corruption in the UK and on the consequences of the referendum on public and private integrity.
Originality/value The study offers the rst systematic analysis of the effects of Brexit and the
referendumon corruption through an integrated interdisciplinaryapproach to systemic corruption in the UK.
Keywords Legitimacy, Integrity, Lobbying, Brexit, Systemic corruption, Anomie, Press, Media,
Immigration, Corruption proong, Lawmaking, Politics
Paper type Research paper
The suggestion that the United Kingdom (UK) is corrupt let alonesystemically corrupt
can scandalise manyor sound like a provocationgiven the countrys global standing against
corruption. Nevertheless,in the last few years, the taboo of corruption in the UK (Barrington,
2016a) has been seriously shattered by the exposure of corrupt practices embedded in
certain environmentsof the public and private sectors (Whyte, 2015). The Brexit referendum
and the following events provide both a case studyand an opportunity to assess the risks of
systematisation of corruption in the UK. The purpose of this article is to perform such an
assessment and to recommend possible remedies. To do so, we will adopt an
interdisciplinary approach integrating different explanations of systemic corruption
elaborated by scholarsfrom different elds.
In the rst part of the article, we will provide a denition of systemic corruption as a
phenomenon departing from existing legal denitions, which are found to be too narrow
corruption in
post-Brexit UK
Journalof Financial Crime
Vol.26 No. 3, 2019
pp. 705-718
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JFC-09-2018-0094
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