Douglas Carswell

27 JUL 2016

It was "Taking back control," not immigration, wot won it

Since the referendum, some Remain campaigners have made out Leave's victory was solely driven by angry nativism, and Britain is now radically polarised. Their narrative has been uncritically repeated in parts of the broadcast media. But a new report by British Future – a genuinely neutral observer – with polling by ICM suggests these articles of faith are really nonsense.

Here are some of their most interesting findings:

  • Sovereignty was the top Leave concern: '54% of Leave voters said that "taking power back from Brussels" was the main reason they voted as they did, more than double the 24% who cited immigration as their number one reason.'
  • There is a broad consensus on immigration control: 'Three quarters (74%) of people agree that "Immigration brings pressures as well as gains, and our decision to Leave the EU gives us a chance to change the system."'
  • And an even broader consensus on the status of EU nationals already in the UK: '84% of the British public supports letting EU migrants stay – including three quarters (77%) of Leave voters.'
  • But voters on both sides disliked the tone of the immigration debate: 'A majority of Leave voters (52%) and UKIP supporters (53%) agreed that the debate on immigration in the campaign became dangerously overheated, with 80% of Remain voters feeling this way.'
  • Britain isn't necessarily an 'increasingly divided nation': 'In 245 out of 395 electoral districts the average person could easily expect to meet approximately the same number of people who voted differently from them in their main local high street.'
  • Continuity campaigning is holding Britain back: 'If the 48% tribe stays mobilised – and thinks it might ask the same question again – then the motley coalition of the 52% would have to stick together too, ready to refight the last war.'
  • A Brexit consensus is possible. If we transcend the tribalism, we can start to have new, productive debates: 'Many people will want to engage in the debate about what changes after Brexit could mean for the causes they care about.'

Have a read.

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