Looking at the detail by local authority area
Yougov have produced a very useful map that ranks local authority areas across Great Britain by levels of Euroscepticism. . Euroscepticism is not necessarily identical to supporting Brexit, but one can assume that there is a close correlation between the two. What does the map show us, and how does it compare to polling data?
1. There is a clear correlation between voting for right wing parties (Conservatives and UKIP) and support for Brexit. This is confirmed in the latest Ipsos MORI poll () which found that right wing voters split 64/36 for Brexit (excluding donâ€™t knows) while Labour and Liberal Democrat voters split 73/27 for Remain on the same basis (one would expect similar results for supporters of the Green Party and SNP).
This sounds like a truism. After all, we know that all UKIP supporters back Brexit, as near as makes no difference, as does much of the Conservative Party. The Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties are almost unanimous in supporting Remain. But it contrasts quite sharply with the very clear differences in voting that are shown when the figures are broken down by social class. What it does demonstrate though, is that we should not assume that most white working class voters in left wing authorities will support Brexit. There are exceptions that are likely to support Brexit (eg Sandwell, Blackpool, Blackburn, South Yorkshire outside of Sheffield) but in general, leftward leaning areas will back Remain, whether they are middle class or working class.
Expect to see places like Glasgow, Liverpool, Tyneside, Greater Manchester, with big white working class populations vote heavily for Remain. Conversely, expect the majority of Conservative-controlled local authorities to vote for Brexit.
2. Conversely, there is a very clear divide between the two sides, in terms of social class. The same Ipsos MORI poll showed that voters from Social Classes AB and C1 split 2:1 in favour of Remain, whereas voters from Social Classes C2, D, and E break heavily for Leave. Nor is there anything surprising about this. Those groups that do best out of the status quo are likely to support the status quo. Those that donâ€™t will vote against it. The same pattern was seen in the Referendum on Scottish independence. Although voting by social class is nothing like as polarised as it was in the past, the Conservatives still led Labour by 19% among AB voters in 2015 and by 14% among C1 voters. By contrast, they trailed Labour among working class voters Yet, with certain exceptions, well-heeled Conservative-voting areas are likely to support Brexit. How to explain what appears to be a paradox?
Although no polling company that I know of tries to identify support for and opposition to Brexit among middle and working class supporters of each party (and the sample sizes would be too small for meaningful results) we can make a reasonable inference that middle class Conservatives are far more supportive of Brexit than are middle class voters generally. Conversely, middle class left wing voters are likely to be almost unanimous in opposing Brexit.
In my view, middle class Conservatives are the key swing voters in this campaign. On the one hand, they identify strongly with the status quo, and are probably concerned that Brexit could result in economic turbulence. On the other hand, they are ideologically Eurosceptic, in many cases, sufficiently Eurosceptic to support Brexit. Combined with working class and UKIP support for Brexit, this is enough to explain why most Conservative authorities are likely to support Brexit.
3. But not all do. Returning to Yougovâ€™s map, Conservative boroughs in London, such as Wandsworth, Barnet, Kensington, Westminster, are Europhile, as is most of London. Surrey and Cambridgeshire, are no more Eurosceptic than the country as a whole, despite strong levels of Conservative (and in places UKIP) support. We should assume that in such authorities, concern about the economic consequences of Brexit among Conservatives is sufficient to outweigh natural Euroscepticism.
4. And, that touches on a final important point. I would expect ethnic minority and Jewish voters to strongly favour Remain. They are likely to be suspicious of nationalism, and probably worried about the impact of economic and political instability, in the event of a Leave vote. Boroughs like Brent, Southwark, Lambeth, Haringey, are some of the most Europhile in the country, containing as they do both large ethnic minority populations, and large left-wing middle class populations. Barnet is the most Jewish borough in the country, has a big Conservative vote, but is likely to vote Remain by a big margin. Greater London is by some margin, the most Europhile region of England.
So what to expect on June 23rd? This is not an overall prediction, but more what one should expect to see in types of local authority (the vote will be counted by authority). Conservative authorities are likely to be the most favourable to Brexit. The more working-class the Conservative authority, the higher the Brexit vote. If Remain carries boroughs like Southend on Sea, Havering, Thurrock, Thanet, then Remain is heading for a very big win on the night. Left wing authorities are likely to produce big votes for Remain, albeit, one would expect to see bigger votes for Remain in authorities with large middle class and ethnic minority populations, than in authorities which are mostly white working class. If Leave carries boroughs like Brighton and Hove, Ealing, Merton, and Harrow, then theyâ€™ll have won decisively.