- The UK is more eurosceptic than ever following the EU referendum, with 75% of people saying they want to leave the EU or limit its powers.
- Education is the best way of identifying how people voted in the referendum, as only 22% of graduates voted Leave.
- Concern over immigration was the dominant reason for voting Leave – 73% who are worried about it voted Leave.
- The idea that people voted Leave because of disenfranchisement with politics “are largely wide of the mark.”
LONDON — The UK has become more sceptical about the European Union than ever before, as more than three out of four people think we should leave the EU or reduce its powers.
According to the British Social Attitudes report released on Tuesday morning, 76% of Britons think either the UK should leave the EU or stay in the EU and limit its powers.
The major study, which was conducted between July and November last year, also found that the biggest difference between those who voted Leave and those who voted Remain was their level of education. The author of the report, John Curtice, writes “the pattern of voting in the EU referendum reflected then, above all, an educational divide.”
Only 22% of people with a degree voted to leave the European Union, which contrasts with the 72% of people who have no educational qualifications at all who voted Leave.
Voters in the referendum were also split along socially conservative and socially liberal lines, as socially conservative voters with concerns about immigration were overwhelmingly more like to vote to leave.
73% of people who are worried about immigration voted Leave, contrasting with 36% who voted Leave yet did not identify it as a concern.
Curtice writes about increased immigration “this social change may represent a challenge that makes them [existing residents] feel uncomfortable – and a litmus test for what they think of the European Union”
He says that there is now a “major cultural divide between those who prefer a relatively homogeneous society and those who are content with a more diverse one.”
In the referendum campaign last year the official Vote Leave campaign attempted not to attack migration directly to begin with, before moving against it in the latter stages, while Nigel Farage’s Leave.EU campaign largely focused on immigration, including its infamous ‘Breaking Point’ poster.
Brexit was about immigration
Claims that the EU referendum was not about immigration appear to be disproved by this study showing that a large majority who voted Leave had concerns about the issue.
The split between social conservatives and social liberals reflects what Curtice has said about the divide between Labour and the Conservatives following the 2017 general election, where he said the split is between “a party principally representing social conservatives [the Conservatives] vs a party principally representing social liberals [Labour].”
Negotiations for Britain’s exit from the UK began on June 19, despite the debate still raging about the merits of a ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ Brexit. The minority Conservative government are split on the issue, with senior cabinet members such as chancellor Philip Hammond appearing to favour a softer Brexit, which contrasts with what the prime minister, Theresa May, has said previously.
The report also shows that support for ending austerity is at a ten-year high, as almost half of those surveyed (48%) want to increase public spending with just 4% wanting to decrease it
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