Understanding the social and cultural bases of Brexit

Publication type

Research Paper


Tak Wing Chan, Morag Henderson, Maria Sironi and Juta Kawalerowicz

Publication date

Series Number



We use data from a large scale and nationally representative survey to explore the social and cultural bases of Brexit. There are strong age
and educational gradients in Brexit support. Net of individual characteristics, regional differences within England become insignificant. In
fact, once local level of immigration is taken into account, people living in the English regions are less pro-Leave than Londoners. It is social
status, not social class, which predicts Brexit support. Economic deprivation does not predict Brexit attitude. Individuals living in areas
with a higher concentration of migrants are actually less pro-Brexit. But recent increase in immigration level has the opposite association.
Individuals for whom being British is important are more likely to support Leave. But those who choose national identity over sub-national
identity and those reporting omnivorous cultural consumption are less supportive of Brexit. Those who live in the county in which they were
born are more pro-Leave, but those who have stronger ties with their neighbours and neighbourhood, and those who are more involved in
civic associations are pro-Remain. Overall, our results do not support the ‘left-behind’ narrative of Brexit. Instead, we show a strong cultural dimension in Brexit support.


Politics, Elections. Electoral Behaviour, Demography, Societies and Social Behaviour