People’s Stated Reasons for Voting Leave or Remain

What reasons do people give to justify their vote choice for Leave or Remain? And, what are the reasons they think the other side voted as they did? New briefing note CSI Brexit 4: People’s Stated Reasons for Voting Leave or Remain. Summary of the findings:


  • Several different surveys and opinion polls have asked Britons why they voted the way they did in the EU referendum. The two main reasons people voted Leave were ‘immigration’ and ‘sovereignty’, whereas the main reason people voted Remain was ‘the economy’.


  • Analysis of data from the Centre for Social Investigation’s longitudinal survey on attitudes to Brexit bolsters these conclusions.


  • Among four possible reasons for voting Leave, ‘to teach British politicians a lesson’ is ranked last by an overwhelming majority of Leave voters, contrary to the claim that Brexit was a ‘protest vote’.


  • Among four possible reasons for voting Remain, ‘a strong attachment to Europe’ is ranked last by a sizable majority of Remain voters, consistent with the claim that Britons have a relatively weak sense of European identity.


  • When asked to rank the reasons why their counterparts voted the way they did, Leave voters characterise Remain voters more accurately than Remain voters characterise Leave voters. In particular, Remain voters underestimate the importance that Leave voters attach to the EU having no role in UK law-making.