MIDDLESBROUGH, England, June 20, 2017 /PRNewswire/ --
A year since the vote to leave the European Union, new research at Teesside University found Brexit voters are more likely to describe themselves as middle class, educated and fed up, rather than angry and working class.
The common clichés of the "liberal elite" Remainer and ill-educated Brexiteer are not entirely accurate, a new survey shows. People who voted to leave the EU did not necessarily feel angry or left out of society because of globalisation.
The findings - from three surveys - call into question assumptions made by observers that people who voted to leave the European Union are poorly educated and from working class communities.
People who support Brexit are more likely to have intermediate levels of education rather than no qualifications, and feel a malaise because of declining economic conditions, rather than anxiety or anger.
The research published in Competition and Change was carried out by a cross-national team based at Teesside University, the Q Step centre at the University of Exeter and web developer company Kieskompas in Amsterdam.
Findings confirm that people with higher levels of education were less likely to vote leave. But it also shows those with intermediate levels of education - good GCSEs and A-levels - were more likely to vote leave than those with no formal education.
Laszlo Horvath, from the University of Exeter, said: "Our findings suggest that Brexit came about because of the malaise of a much larger portion of the population than just traditionally 'working class' communities, as media have previously suggested. It shows middle class families do feel affected by changes in the economy and some feel their lives have got more complicated."
Dr Lorenza Antonucci, from Teesside University, added: "Our empirical study shows the 'squeezed middle' was more likely to vote for Brexit than the working class. We found that Leavers identified as middle class, rather than working class. Our study shows that the social malaise and the dramatic changes in the voting dynamics are not just led by the 'left behind', but rather include a significant segment of the population in a declining economic position. Responding to this dissatisfaction requires public interventions that address inequality."
The research is part of the VOTEADVICE project, a four-year research project funded by the European Commission to investigate the impact of new technologies on political behaviour.
SOURCE Teesside University Press Office