Figures produced by a Twitter activist which claim over 120,000 voters who backed Brexit in the June referendum have now died have been hailed and even celebrated by left wing news outlets.
Basing his figures on projected demographic change within the voting population, as well as changes based on a “Brexit regret” survey and the voting attitudes of new expat electors, architect and pro-EU twitter user Steve Lawrence claimed earlier this month that were the referendum to be held again, remain would triumph.
While the majority of the shift he claims is based on so-called Brexit regret, news outlets including the Independent’s social-media focused arm i100 and ShortList have leapt on the claimed deaths of Brexit supporters as a cause for celebration. Praising the claims of Mr. Lawrence as “the lord’s work”, ShortList referred to the number of estimated dead leave voters as “one of the most fun aspects” and suggested that remain voters would be “comforted by the news that only six months on… they’re already falling faster than pound sterling”.
Shortlist writer Tristran Cross gleefully spins a narrative of dead Brits, writing:
Imagine them, shuffling into the voting booth, coughing and wheezing, barely enough blood left in their brain to fuel their xenophobic thoughts, dragging their ailing, shaking hand over the slip, carving a feint ‘X’ into the box marked ‘Leave’, feeling like they’d finally got control back, then immediately dropping dead.
One other datapoint used in the estimation is the voting intentions of the approximately one and a quarter million British expats who have been living abroad for more than fifteen years but are to be granted a vote in future British elections. While Mr. Lawrence speculates the majority would vote for the UK to remain in the European Union, he identifies 260,000 expatriates who would vote for Brexit.
For these individuals ShortList expressed particular scorn, stating: “Frankly, I hope that all the 123,411 Leave voters that Steve has predicted dead exclusively belonged to this group”, while i100 reports “The dead hand of the past is upon us all”.
The largest shift estimated by Lawrence in his Tweets is based on an internet survey which asked respondents a range of questions including whether they regretted their vote in the EU referendum. Yet as the British Election Study itself admits, the margin of regret is “consistent” with the general election, and there is a natural predisposition among humans to regret something that did, rather than didn’t happen.
Whether the results of an internet study would be borne out in an actual referendum re-run, especially given the inability of pollsters to accurately predict the referendum, is hard to assess. And in any case, it is also impossible to know how many people would have regretted their vote had the poll gone the other way.
Between unreliable polling and the deaths of their fellow countrymen, it is likely remoaner voters excited by a seemingly profound tweet by a political activist architect have little to celebrate.