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Why Did The UK REALLY Vote To Leave The EU In The Referendum?
When the results of the EU referendum were announced there was a general feeling of surprise across the UK. Despite the relative closeness of the final vote, many had not anticipated a win for the leave campaign.

One point that was very clear, in both the run up to the referendum and in the following months, was the strength of feeling on both sides of the debate.   Whether a Leave or Remain supporter, many held firm views as to why their opinion was the right one.

But what were the real underlying issues that led to 51.89% of those who took part in the referendum voting to leave the EU?

We undertook our own mini ballot across 12000 people and here are some of the real reasons they gave for their vote.


A Rejection Of Current Government Policies

For some a vote to leave was a vote against the current Government and its policies.  The implications of leaving the EU doesn’t appear to have been a factor for some, who simply saw this as a taking a stance against the establishment, who they thought had ceased to listen to the people.


The Immigration Question

Unsurprisingly, concerns about the impact of immigration levels in the UK were clearly a key factor behind many Leave voters decision.  Worries about free movement of labour and the resulting number of European workers in the UK were a strong motivation for votes. Many expressed forceful opinions on the need to reduce immigration and this point featured heavily in the Leave campaign’s rhetoric.


Misinformation and Propaganda

Whilst both campaigns have been guilty of misleading voters with their use of selective ‘truths’, respondents to our survey felt that the emotionally charged claims of the Leave campaign had helped to convince them of their vote.  Who can forget the infamous bus, bearing the statement that the £50 million per day cost of EU membership could be redirected to the NHS.  Whilst such claims may have lacked substance, they certainly did the trick in terms of appealing to people’s emotions.


Economic Prosperity

Some Leave voters expected to see an increase in prosperity linked to free trade with the rest of the world.  However few factored in the high cost of the “divorce settlement” with the EU, which stands at £39 billion and which some are predicting will taken until 2064 to be fully paid off.  Nigel Farage is now claiming that he never said that everyone would be better off for leaving the EU even though he has done so on numerous occasions. If and when we will experience an increase in prosperity as a result of the decision to leave the EU remains to be seen.



“Let’s take back control” ran the Leave campaign slogan.  For many older voters it was this wish to return to UK control and sovereignty that influenced their vote to leave.  Some of those who remembered the UK joining the Common Market in 1973, felt they had witnessed a gradual erosion of UK independence over the following 40 years and voted to regain this.



The final turnout for the Brexit referendum of 72.2% meant that a significant proportion of the eligible population refrained from casting their vote. Respondents to our survey who hadn’t voted reported largely regretting their decision.  Many stated that they hadn’t realised the importance at the time, which is significant as the majority confirmed that they would have voted Remain.

The age of those who voted was also a factor that affected the result. Whilst 90% of those over 65 voted in the referendum, only 64% of those aged 18 to 24 participated.  Given that the majority of the older population voted to leave in contrast to younger voters, it’s clear that the poor turnout of the under 30’s had a definite impact on the result.


Weak Remain Campaign

The final key reason cited by respondents, which led to the vote to leave the EU, was the weak Remain campaign.  Whilst the Leavers where highly vocal and visible in the run up to the referendum, the Remain campaign lacked the same passion and presence.  Whether this was down to complacency or the internal politics between Conservative and Labour Remainers is unclear, but the resulting weak campaign failed to rally the same level of support.

From reading our respondents’ comments, it’s clear that the outcome of the referendum was influenced by a wide range of factors.  When everything is considered and with the benefit of hindsight, it’s perhaps not such a surprise that the Leave campaign was successful. However, the Brexit referendum will forever remain known one of the biggest upsets in Britain’s political history.


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