What the EU Referendum taught us about Britain

3 Sep 2016


On 23rd June, Britain narrowly voted to leave the European Union - a result that many, including Nigel Farage, were not expecting.


In the wake of the ground-breaking vote, media outlets and politicians alike have tried to make sense of how and why people voted the way they did. Yet, by doing so, many have viewed the referendum through the prism of individual characteristics. Consequently, stereotypes have emerged: the old, racist northern, working-class Leaver, versus the young, metropolitan, middle-class, southern Remainer.


When looking at the figures in more detail, these stereotypes are not so robust -  the  top five 'Leave areas', are all in fact in Lincolnshire, Essex, and Suffolk.


With that in mind, here are a wide-ranging collection of statistics which reveal a more multifacted, nuanced picture of the referendum results.








Undoubtedly, the crux of the referendum was the campaigning. With Stronger In and Vote Leave taking centre stage, brandishing posters, slogans and figures, both were inevitably on the receiving end of criticism.  Indeed, their influence was significant, as 26% of voters only decided to support Leave or Remain in the last four weeks of the campaign, whilst four in ten began undecided and waited to see what either side had to say before making a decision.


ICM polling conducted for British Future shortly after the vote provides a glimpse into public opinon of the tone of the two campaigns.








One of the pervasive ideas to come out of the referendum results was that poor, de-industrialised areas in England overhwelmingly voted to leave the European Union. However, when broadly similar areas are compared, there are sometimes significant differences in the Leave vote.


Take the Fens for example - an area in which, overall, 73% of voters supported Leave. Within the fens lies South Holland, a district where 73.6% of residents voted Leave, yet in the nearby socioeconomically similar area of South Kesteven, the figure stood at 59.9%.


Likewise, Stoke-on-Trent and Knowsley share many characteristics. Both have undergone de-industrialisation and economic downturn, but Knowsley is considerabley more in favour of EU membership. The reasons for these differences remains largely unclear.





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