Causes of the “Leave” Vote

A range of factors have been put forward to explain the vote in favour of leave. Several books have been written about the subject. The loss of sovereignty and lack of democratic control feature prominently. Some have explained the result in terms of British history and the re-emergence of a British or English national identity. Others have explained the result with reference to economic factors including the effects of unrestricted immigration by EU nationals. The correlation between areas of economic disadvantage and the leave vote has been highlighted

Prominent in most explanations are the following factors

Sovereignty and accountability

  • The loss of UK sovereignty by virtue of EU membership
  • The expanding autonomous expansion of EU competence and power
  • insufficient accountability of EU institutions
  • Insufficient democratic consent for EU

Negative Economic and social

  • Austerity and significant reduction in government expenditure since the global financial crisis
  • Negative effect of globalisation in groups and areas left behind
  • Inability to control immigration by EU nationals
  • Europe’s failure to control the migrant crisis following the Middle Eastern wars
  • Significant increases in Eastern European migration in some areas lowering wages and raising rents

Positive Economic opportunities

  • Economic opportunities outside the EU for the UK
  • Liberation from restrictive EU regulations
  • The long-running euro crisis and the need for successive bailouts
  • EU stagnation and high unemployment as against UK and emerging economies growth
  • Ability to negotiate new trade agreements with fast-growing emerging economies
  • Confidence that UK strength would guarantee favourable EU deal

Cultural and identity reasons

  • Britain’s historical role as a world power
  • Britain’s unique role in shaping the modern world
  • Resistance to absorption into European identity
  • North-South divide between wealthy London and the south-east and deindustrialised North
  • Resurgence of English national identity
  • anti-establishment populism

Campaign factors

  • An undefined leave option
  • A weak remain campaign with emphasis on negatives/project fear
  • Half-hearted campaigning by Jeremy Corbyn a known Eurosceptic
  • Leadership of Boris Johnson, a popular former London mayor
  • Claims of economic advantage
  • Role of the popular / populist Eurosceptic media including the Sum Daily Mail the Telegraph and Daily Express
  • Alleged interference by Russian influence designed to undermine EU
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