Originally Posted: June 24, 2016
Of all the demographics that were torn apart by the Brexit vote — old/young, rural/urban, rich/poor — one of the most dramatic was between voters who consider themselves English first, and those who identify as British.
People who see themselves as British, that is as part of a commonwealth in a single United Kingdom, were more likely to vote with the losing side to Remain in the wider European Union. Self-identified Welsh were about evenly split, leaning more Remain the further they live from Cardiff and the English border. And a majority of Scots, having already rejected secession from the U.K. in 2014, likewise voted to Remain.
But people who identify primarily as English were overwhelmingly more likely to vote to Leave, at 72%. They were the great winners of the referendum, and an analysis of voting intention surveys shows how their three main motivators — economy, security and culture — were expressed in attitudes that ranged from narrow, self-interested xenophobia to romantic, nostalgic English nationalism.
“A lot of people perceive that immigration has produced a huge cultural threat to the English traditions, way of life, Judeo-Christian religious traditions, and all those things. It’s not politically correct to talk about it, but they are really concerned. Immigration was huge in this referendum,” said Harold Clarke, author of Affluence, Austerity & Electoral Change in Britain, and professor of political economy at the University of Texas at Dallas. “Negative attitudes towards immigration were a huge driver of Leave voting. That’s something that’s been building for years.” READ MORE