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Locally-varying explanations behind the United Kingdom’s vote to the Leave the European Union

Beecham, R., Slingsby, A. & Brunsdon, C. (2018). Locally-varying explanations behind the United Kingdom’s vote to the Leave the European Union. Journal of Spatial Information Science, 16, pp. 117-136.


Explanations behind area-based (Local Authority-level) voting preference in the 2016 referendum on membership of the European Union are explored using aggregate-level data. Developing local models, special attention is paid to whether variables explain the vote equally well across the country. Variables describing the post-industrial and economic ‘successfulness’ of Local Authorities most strongly discriminate variation in the vote. To a lesser extent this is the case for variables linked to ‘metropolitan’ and ‘big city’ contexts, which assist the Remain vote, those that distinguish more traditional and ‘nativist’ val- ues, assisting Leave, and those loosely describing material outcomes, again reinforcing Leave. Whilst variables describing economic competitiveness co-vary with voting pref- erence equally well across the country, the importance of secondary variables – those dis- tinguishing metropolitan settings, values and outcomes – does vary by region. For certain variables and in certain areas, the direction of effect on voting preference reverses. For ex- ample, whilst levels of European Union migration mostly assist the Remain vote, in parts of the country the opposite effect is observed.

Publication Type: Article
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Computer Science > giCentre
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0.

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