Did only stupid people vote for Brexit?

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.


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25 Responses

  1. ry

    Two type of brexit voters, the stupid and the smarter ones who see beyond the EU lies and corruption. Why would anyone vote for an organisation that has never been able to sign off its accounts and who pays bonuses in cash? Educated doesn’t always mean people are smart. There are more intelligences than formal education.

    1. Hans Peter

      That is an outright lie. ” Why would anyone vote for an organisation that has never been able to sign off its accounts and who pays bonuses in cash? “

      1. The EU’s Court of Auditors regularly “signs off”—in its own words—the reliability of the accounts themselves, and has given them a clean bill of health for the last eight years.

        But it has consistently found significant errors in how the money is paid out since it began giving opinions in 1995.

        Ultimately, it depends on what you think the term “signed off” implies about the accounts.

        1. It’s a lie.

          Errors in accounts do not mean fraud or misspent money. It could be that the rendering process for an airport was not carried out exactly as per regulations – but the airport was still built.

          Paying bonuses in cash, made up rubbish as usual from the slogan obsessed brexiteer brigade.

    2. Francesca

      Could you please qualify eU corruption? do you know that UKIP with Farouje is now being investigated by the EU Parliament for misuse of EU funding? Do you know that there’s an EU Assembly +Parliament AND that MEPs are voted in there by every EU member according to proportional representation? Do you now that’s this EU emergency/help fund that any nation can use , Italy just using it now, and from which Wales has used quite often? do you remember that the UK was always in its own “path” made out of many opt outs AND keeping its own blooming sterling?

  2. David Harkin

    Good old statistics.
    I’m old, white and uneducated. I was born in Middlesbrough where the chances of a university position were limited and the possiblity of affording one unlikely.
    Instead I took an apprenticeship and became a draughtman. I’ m now lead management.
    To say that uneducated people drove the brexit result is misleading and disrespectful.
    There is a clear connection between lack of education and lack of money or opportunity. The dearth of investment outside London or Scotland from successive governments caused brexit. It’s all about the greed of the so called educated classes.
    Uneducated does not mean stupid.

  3. John Vandelay

    It has become a common smear to suggest that people only voted to leave the EU because they were ignorant and stupid.
    But what about the people who voted for remain? The vast majority were and are completely ignorant of the basic features of the organisation they voted to remain part of. For example, how many Remain voters could answer these very basic questions about the EU:
    1) Who are the Five Presidents of the EU, what do they do, and how were they appointed?
    2) How are laws made in the EU, and who drafts them?
    These points are fundamental, because opinion polls have shown that the lack of democratic accountability in the EU was the main reason why people voted leave (lack of control over immigration being the second most important reason, but also simply a consequence of the first).
    A Remain voter who could not answer even these basic questions about the EU – which means virtually all of them – voted without having any real idea of what they were voting for. In short, they voted in much greater ignorance than the Leave voters, who, however “uneducated”, correctly understood that leaving was the only way to regain democratic control over those who make their laws.

    1. Fathomer

      What a load of rubbish. Does the fact (tested by pollsters) that most British people could not name the members of the Cabinet, with many unable to name even the PM mean that every voter is ignorant? Or that MPs, both here and in the EU are largely faceless, or that people simply aren’t interested enough. I suspect the latter. The reason most people could not name the presidents of the EU, is that we are not told. Do most UK people go away and check who is in the cabinet? Do they know unless they are told, or a news article (usually because whatever minister it is has done something appalling) informs them? By contrast, I debated the Brexit issue many times before the vote, with people of varying educational levels. Sadly, the vast majority didn’t have a clue about what the EU does, how it works, how much funding it collects then re-distributes and how much protection, we, as workers get from it – against our own govts. Most people simply didn’t have any idea, and then, when their tissue thin arguments for ‘out’ were swept away – ‘immigration’ came the cry! Of course, and to finish off, how wonderful that you mentioned ‘democracy’ and getting our ‘power’ back. Talking of ignorance that is. We never lost our ‘democratic control’ of anything. It is the great red herring of the whole Brexit fiasco. There is actually very little EU law passed into UK law, as the statute book reveals. Which is of course another point – there is no such thing as ‘EU regulations dominating us’. Every piece of EU legislation is debated in the EU parliament, voted on, then passed to National govts to accept or not. Before acceptance, it is debated in govt, voted on, passed to committee than onto the statute book. There is not one single ‘EU regulation’ that is the same in every EU country, because they have all been amended by National govts! In the first week of the coalition govt, it rejected EU regulations, you know, those things that were ‘forced on us’. We have gained nothing ‘back’ by leaving the EU, because we lost nothing in the first place! All that’s happened is, is that May and co can now do whatever they want to you, and boy, are they going to enjoy themselves at your expense! Basically, you’ve been had. Get over it.

    2. Andrew C

      Are you or Brexit supporters familiar with the City Remembrancer in parliament?

      Are you or Brexit supporters aware the British have no say over who the prime minister is?

      Are you and Brexit supporters fully versed in the role of the House of Lords and what they can or cannot do?

      Are you and Brexit supporters familiar with all the stages legislation goes through in parliament?

      There’s a fair amount of ignorance of both political systems, and both have their faults.

      By democratic I take it you mean having a majority in parliament with 37% of the vote and having an unelected upper house, and by control I take it you you mean getting shafted by the US in a future trade deal..

    3. Most remainers made far more effort to establish the facts. If you established the facts there was only one reason to vote leave, you valued sovereignty above all else.

      Things like “EU budget not signed off”, lack of democracy, and all those cake and eat it arguments were obvious fallacies along with the stupid bus. But leavers lapped it all up.

      Had the campaign run by leave been even slightly honest they would have lost. It was a disgrace and a stain on our democracy.

  4. MD

    Just one example, we’ve seen the results of the educated (in finance and economics) at close hand, rolling debt bubbles and bailouts at the taxpayer’s and savers’ expense. It is not impressive and “nobody could see it coming” apart from quite a few uneducated oiks in the provinces who could see if they ran their own personal finances in the same way they would be heading for serfdom.

  5. Michael Welby

    The source of the analysis is, of course, suspect. No doubt this report will comfort the credulous and smug but proof, if it was ever needed, that educational attainment has little to do with intelligence.

  6. SDN

    I am a remainer and I couldn’t answer the basic questions. However, most brexiteers were seeing this as an opportunity to reshuffle the pack, to agitate the status quo in order to see what comes out the other end. They were sick of same old same old and the inequality of wealth and power distribution. These are all fine intentions. The problem is that we live in a very delicately balanced and dangerous world which is on the verge of losing its order and its sanity. This was not the time to take a momentous leap into the unknown. If the brexiteers had told us of what their vision is and where we are going to, then I would have been with them. Instead they peddled a litany of bullshit, then once the verdict was out, they ran for cover. Lots of comments doing the rounds about how we have survived Brexit. Believe me, Brexit and it’s ramifications haven’t even begun!!

    1. Steve O'Connor

      So can you tell me where the EU are going ????? I did not here this argument / Vision. I guess the EU has not changed since the day it started ?? or did they have a vision then of what they have become today ? ……………………….

    2. Robert Weyman

      Yes spot on, once article 50 has been activated and the negotiations started, then and only then will you start to see the real ramifications of this Brexit bomb shell. Indeed the ramifications will go on for a considerable time after the successful or failed negotiations have been concluded in 2019. To think otherwise is where the stupidity comes in. Lets all hope that the negotiations turn out far better thst we could ever have dreamed. This in my view won’t happen but then I found some of the leave campaigns fairy dust. lol

  7. wilfulsprite

    Well what do you expect? Educated people get to move around Europe for work, tend to earn more and aren’t subject to the wage race to the bottom, and don’t have to live in areas where there is overcrowded housing, schooling and medical services. The least educated are those who have borne the brunt of free movement, falling wages and spiralling housing costs they can’t afford.

    1. Robert Weyman

      I agree with you Wilfulsprite 100% but I think it’s our government that have failed us not the EU. And leaving the EU gives this same government more power to make the richer, far more richer and still fail to help those that need it the most. However believe me the poor and the pensioners will still have to pay big time for this.

  8. co

    I voted to leave after a great deal of study. I spent many weeks looking at the EU laws and the proposed laws. The constitution made a very interesting read. The ‘jobs for the boys’ will guarantee a steady supply of politicians supporting the EU project (and a nice little earner it is)……..and so much more interesting reading.
    Did my educated friends do this? No, of course not, they watched the BBC and read the Guardian (examples of media). I have to say, I was sad when I had done all my research because I didn’t want the result I found, so rather than be stubborn I changed my opinion about the E.U. and I do not regret my vote.
    The way life is these days is …. If you don’t agree with the majority you are wrong! But if you are in the majority you are wrong if you are not 100% politically correct.
    More young people voted to stay, more young people have ‘degrees’ because everyone seems to go to university these days (pretty obvious)…in the 1960’s and 70’s you really didn’t need to go to university to prove you had common sense and I didn’t. I am intelligent enough to do my own research and not rely on the media to ‘educate’ me. I don’t need a degree to prove I am intelligent, I know I am.

    Oh, while I am on here I suppose I had better get something off my chest to show how utterly stupid ‘political correctness’ is. I was told many years ago that it would be wrong to call someone a ‘coloured’ person. Yet creeping into our politically correct language in recent weeks is………drumroll please…….. it’s now ok to call someone ‘a person of colour’. It’s like the Emperors New Clothes. The world’s gone mad.

  9. Terry Richardson

    As any statistician will tell you “correlation does not necessarily mean causation” so although lower levels of education correlates with voting Brexit it doesn’t necessarily follow that it caused it. In fact I would suggest that lower levels of education correlates more strongly with not doing so well in a modern, increasingly automated, global economy and that it is this that caused people to vote for Brexit. Recognising that people who voted leave have genuine grievances is important if we are to take the right approach to get them to realise that leaving the EU is unlikely to help solve their problems and is much more likely to make them far worse.

  10. Maxine

    So you’re saying that uneducated people, who are over-represented in the bottom quintiles of your society, must be stupid to vote against maintaining the status quo? Nothing to do with powerlessness, hopelessness, disengagement, inequality? Maybe they want a revolution, but weren’t offered a vote on that.

  11. Andy Redman

    The sample group of the study is too small to make any valid assessment – educated people would know this, but they also know that bitter remainers suffer dreadfully from confirmation bias

  12. Roy Standley

    Brexit is a huge mess, we don’t know how to get out. This Brexit Government and PM Theresa may don’t have any idea of whats happening and all they do is lair after lair. I’m a labour voter but wanted to remain with EU but Labour leadership Jeremy Corybn is totally stupid. This Snap election my vote will have to go to Liberal Democrats even thoe I don’t like their policy but the one thing that I want is another referendum to reversed this stupid Brexit.

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