EU Referendum : Who Really Made Their Point?

While I was out over the weekend, it’s clear that the country is still trying to make sense of the Leave decision voted for in the Britain’s referendum of 23rd June.  I simply haven’t spoken to a real life person who wanted to Britain to leave the EU.

I’ve been interested in the numbers that are being produced from various sources in an attempt to make sense of country’s decision.  First up, let’s look at the numbers that actually matter.


Source: The Electoral Commission

Perhaps the most striking statistic was how the vote was heavily decided by age group.  The younger age groups wanted to remain in the European Union, with their majority becoming smaller and eventually becoming a minority with an increase in the age group.


Source: Lord Ashcroft Polls via BBC

For reference, I thought it would be useful to add some context using the latest UK census which was (unfortunately) taken in 2011.  Making an assumption that each of year age group between 15 and 19 has even population, possibly getting a little bit bigger with age, the strongest feelings for Remain fell within 2 of the three smallest age groups, while the strongest feeling for Leave fell with the largest age group.


Source: 83 Unsung Heroes using 2011 Census information

Add to this the fact that percentage turnout increased with age, it is pretty easy to see why the Leave campaign emerged victorious.  In a dramatically obvious statement, there were simply more of them eligible to vote and more of them that did vote.


Source: The Financial Times (and others listed on graphic)

Voter Apathy Or Desire For Protest?

As noted previously, turnout for the referendum was extremely high at 72.2% although the figure show that the bulk of the passion for the cause came from the Leave voters.  Statistics from the Press Association show that out of the four areas with the lowest turnout, 3 of them were the only areas to vote Remain:


Source: The Telegraph

I’m loathed to write this now as I can’t find the graphic I saw that indicated the degree of protest votes in the referendum.  The figure I saw was that 7 out of 10 people who voted for Leave did so without thinking that their vote would count.  The comparative figure for the Remain voters was 1 in 4.

While I can’t find the figures again, I am sure we’ve all seen the video of Adam in Manchester who voted Leave because he didn’t think his vote would matter:

Adam said:

I’m a bit shocked to be honest.

I’m shocked that we actually have voted to Leave, I didn’t think that was going to happen.

My vote, I didn’t think was going to matter too much because I thought we were just going to Remain, and the David Cameron resignation has blown me away to be honest.

I think the period of uncertainty that we’re going to have for the next couple of months, that’s just been magnified now.

So yeah, quite worried.

There’s more Bregret here:

There is also a thought that the Leave vote was all part of undermining a rigged vote:


Source: The Independent

This would indicate that there might not have been so much voter apathy in the Remain supporters, but much more support for anti-establishment protest.

There is even a thought that this is a pyrrhic victory for Boris Johnson given his subdued victory speech on Friday morning in which he declared that there was “no haste” to leave.  As Gaby Hinsliff put it in The Guardian:

It’s just that on Friday morning Johnson didn’t look like a man with a plan that’s all working perfectly. He looked more like a king unable to take more such victories.

Or how about this with a few more words from Teebs:


This could have been a massive bluff calling exercise that failed spectacularly.

As I said at the start of this post, one of my reasons for researching facts and figures was to try to give me some understanding of how things worked out the way they did.  Thus far, I’ve established the obvious – more people cared to vote Leave than cared to vote Remain.  Some of this may have been voter apathy on behalf of Remain and some of this may have been a protest vote to scare The Powers That Be (now The Powers That Were) in to realising that people do have power.

However, what of those people that voted Leave for a genuine reason?  I’m yet to find a real life person who can back up their assertion that they made an informed choice by explaining what that information is.  It is then interesting to see people regretting their vote based on the reality that they are beginning to see.

The Brexit campaign have already reneged on promises on which they based their campaign.  Nigel Farage distanced himself from the pledge of £350m per week additional funding to the NHS merely hours after the victory (although he did say some of that money would also go to schools).

Then Dan Hannan suggested the Leave campaign had never promised a “radical decline” in immigration from Europe which can’t happen anyway if Britain remains part of the common market.

Even if they could argue that they haven’t gone back on those promises, people believed that this is what would happen. Indeed, on the subject of immigration, it appears that some also believed that foreign people living in the UK and paying tax in the UK would be deported the day after a leave vote:

The Brexit campaign also said that there wouldn’t be “a sudden change that disrupts the economy“.  After the Brexit vote the value of the pound plunged to a 31-year low.

In the same message, Vote Leave had said they would not “rush into” Brexit preparations, saying: “The day after the referendum, nothing changes legally. We will talk to our friends in Europe and discuss the best way to agree a new UK-EU relationship. When we do make changes we will make them carefully.”

The day after the referendum, the President of the European parliament Martin Schulz, the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker and President of the European Council, Mark Rutte issued a joint statement saying the UK needed to leave “as soon as possible, however painful that process may be.”

They didn’t know the true impact, but they were assertions that influenced people.

That may also be because some of the people that are influenced didn’t think very hard.  Take the guy who voted Leave not to stop immigration from the EU, but to stop Muslims entering “from Africa, Syria, Iraq, everywhere else” those are all areas that aren’t in the EU so aren’t covered by EU freedom of movement rules.

A friend on Facebook thought that we’d turn in to Switzerland on the basis of an internet meme, which then had other useful bits of information added:


There are figures that suggest that people with higher levels of education and better paid jobs voted Remain.  Make your own conclusions so I don’t have to type it!


I wonder how Brendan O’Neill feels when he sees all that.

Or take the people of Cornwall now worried that they will lose £2.5billion of funding by 2020, or the view from Ebbw Vale, a former steel town of 18,000 people in the heart of the Welsh valleys, where 62% of the population – the highest proportion in Wales – voted Leave.  Carole Cadwalladr in The Guardian highlighted the lack of insight from this town:

We’re standing on the site of the old steelworks, a toxic industrial wasteland left rotting when the plant, once the biggest in Europe, finally closed in 2002. It’s now “The Works” – a flagship £350m regeneration project funded by the EU redevelopment fund and home to the £33.5m Coleg Gwent, where some of the 29,000 Welsh apprenticeships the European Social Fund pays for help young people learn a trade. Add in a new £30m railway line and £80m improvement to the Heads of the Valley road from other pots of EU money, and the town centre has just received £12.2m for various upgrades and improvements.

Other areas dependent on EU money probably made a bad decision:


If I take out one of my older family members, who voted Leave to get their own back on a dead Prime Minister, I’ve only seen one connection of mine venture one “kind of” opinion mentioned in passing, that farmers will be better off.  Those farmers have recently suggested the food prices will rise as a result of leaving.  It’s also worth noting from that same article that the average income of a British farmer in 2014 was £20,000 and half of that was EU money.

My point is this.  The results and reaction echo what I think I saw when I thought there shouldn’t be a referendum at all.  People don’t always make decisions because they have all the facts and make intelligent decisions.  The Sun and The Daily Mail, pro-Brexit publications, both yesterday informed their readers what Brexit will actually mean and were met with anger.

One comment on from The Mail’s article made the point perfectly:


There were four groups involved in this referendum.  There was the Remain campaign, who may well have been defeated by being the smallest demographic as well as the most apathetic, those who form the second group.  There was the Leave campaign who seem to been backed by anti-establishment and mis-information and don’t seem to have even wanted to win, least of all expected it.

And then there’s the 26,033.  Those are the people whose votes were rejected.  Somehow I can’t help put think that they’re the only group of people who actually did what they wanted as a collective.  They were the ones who struck the perfect balance between apathy and positive action on the back of the information that they had to hand.


You’re not as messed up as you think you are
Your self-absorption makes you messier
Just settle down and you will feel a whole lot better
Deep down you’re just like everybody else

She’s not as pretty as she thinks she is
Just picture her after she’s had kids
I bet she sits at home and listens to The Smiths
Deep down she’s just like everybody else

So why are you sat at home?
You’re not designed to be alone
You just got used to saying “no”
So get up and get down and get outside
‘Cause it’s a lovely sunny day
But you hide yourself away
You’ve only got yourself to blame
Get up and get down and get outside

He’s not as clever as he likes to think
He’s just ambitious with his arguing
He’s crap at dancing, yeah and he can’t hold his drink
Deep down he’s just like everybody else

I’m not as awesome as this song makes out
I’m angry, underweight and sketching out
I’m building bonfires on my vanities and doubts
To get warm just like everybody else

So why are you sat at home?
You’re not designed to be alone
You just got used to saying “no”
So get up and get down and get outside
‘Cause it’s a lovely sunny day
But you hide yourself away
You’ve only got yourself to blame
Get up and get down and get outside

Amy thinks that life is lacking in drama
So she fell for horoscopes, fake healing and karma
She’s so wrapped up in her invisible armour
She’ll never grow into herself
And it’s OK thinking me and all my friends are just wasters
But saying that I can still see through her heirs and graces
I bet she’s scared her life won’t leave any traces
Caught up like everyone else

That’s not the point anyway
Oh darling, I felt compelled to call you up to say…
So why are you sat at home?
You’re not designed to be alone
You just got used to saying “no”
So get up and get down and get outside
‘Cause it’s a lovely sunny day
But you hide yourself away
You’ve only got yourself to blame
Get up and get down and get outside

Reasons Not To Be An Idiot by Frank Turner

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