Author: Paul Webb

Breaking Down Brexit: How the UK Voted

So ends the most bitter and polarising experience of British electoral democracy. The economics of Brexit was heatedly and endlessly debated in the UK’s referendum campaign on EU membership, but ultimately it was trumped by voters’ considerations about national integrity and identity. A majority of 17.4m people voted to leave, against 16.1m for remain. How the drama unfolded Assiduous watchers of the early referendum results had been advised that if the outcome in Sunderland (perenially among the first to declare election results) showed anything more than a six-point winning margin for Leave, then Brexit would be the likely outcome nationally. Anything less, however, and Remain could expect overall victory. In the event, Sunderland produced a remarkable 22-point margin in favour of Leave (61-39), while nearby Newcastle, which had been expected to produce a comfortable margin for Remain, only narrowly favoured the pro-EU choice (51% to 49%). The value of sterling fell off a cliff as the currency markets reacted to these early shocks, but the Remain side’s nerves were briefly steadied a little by better …