This Saturday I did something I haven’t done since the day we voted to leave the European Union: I defended Brexit voters.
My friend had made the argument that of all the leave voters he had spoken to about their decision to leave the EU not one had been able to offer up a good argument or account for the consequences of their decision. I had experienced the same thing, but I wasn’t prepared to tarnish the other 17.4 million voters with the same brush. Without hard evidence to back-up claims that people who voted for Brexit are essentially “stupid”, I wasn’t willing to make the presumption.
But a more localised breakdown of votes obtained by the BBC today from nearly half of the local authorities which counted EU referendum ballots last June seems to back up his argument. The data confirms previous indications that local results were strongly associated with the educational attainment of voters, showing that populations with lower qualifications were significantly more likely to vote Leave.
Although the data for this analysis comes from only one in nine wards, we are starting to build a stronger picture of who your average “Brexit” voter is. Previous presumptions that the vote to leave the European Union was based emotive and misguided judgements are being verified and evidence of education, age and ethnicity splits is piling up. It would seem that older, whiter, less educated people did, after all, provide much of the momentum behind our decision to leave.
But making a mockery of democracy is partly what landed us and the United States in this mess in the first place. Having a bunch of left-wing liberal elite telling people they were wrong to vote on their beliefs will only serve them to believe them more resolutely. Those who, like my friend, believe Brexit buyer’s remorse has prevailed following the election are sorely mistaken, and telling people they’re thick will never get us out of what appears to be a worrying spiral into the abyss.