AQ: Australian Quarterly

From Hampstead to Hull: Implications of Brexit and other overseas voting trends for the ALP

To understand why Brexit happened, it is important to first look at the demographics of those places in which people voted differently from their normal party political allegiance. The BBC results maps, on the page facing, indicate how the country voted in the 2015 and 2017 General Elections, as well as the 2016 national referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union (EU).

What is clear is that the referendum results do not fall cleanly along political lines. Some Conservative Party seats in the south of England, especially in and around London, voted to remain in the EU; while some Labour Party seats in the north of England voted to leave.

There are large spatterings of red (Labour Party) rather than blue (Conservative Party) in the north and north-east of England and in South Wales in the 2015 election results map; and even more so in the 2017 national election results map. There are fewer corresponding patches of the gold colour (which signifies a Remain vote) breaking up the dominant blue (which signifies a Leave vote) in the map of the 2016 EU Referendum result.

A crucial fact in explaining Brexit is that many working-class Labour voters in the south of Wales and the north of England – such as in Sunderland, Sheffield, and Birmingham – added their economic grievances to the hostility towards the continent of Europe and ‘foreigners’ that is felt by many chauvinistic Conservatives concentrated in the south of England. Voting the same way, and with high turnouts, produced the referendum majority to leave. That combination was unfortunate and preventable; and its causes need to be understood and tackled.


It is the Right of British politics that fueled the opposition to British membership of the European Union, and that subsequently brought about the vote for Brexit. The proponents of a British exit from the EU argued that this would enable Britain to better express and preserve its distinctive culture and to better advance its future economic interests.

However, it was the failings of the Labour Party, under both present and past leaders, that enabled such opposition to gain

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