Remain Voters Overwhelmingly Middle Class Liberals

A boat carrying supporters for the Remain in the EU campaign including Bob Geldof (C) shout and wave at Brexit fishing boats as they sail up the river Thames in central London on June 15, 2016. A Brexit flotilla of fishing boats sailed up the River Thames into London today …

Middle class liberals were the only section of society to overwhelmingly back remaining within the EU, new analysis has found. All other social groups were either divided or strongly pro-Brexit.

The study, by social research institute NatCen, delved into data responses from 37,000 participants to draw up the most detailed picture to date of who voted for Brexit, and who wanted to remain.

NatCen identified five demographic subgroups into which it categorised participants: middle class liberals; younger, working class Labour voters; affluent Eurosceptics; the older working classes; and those who are economically deprived and anti-immigration.

Of the five groups, just one – middle class liberals – voted overwhelmingly to stay within the EU, 92 per cent of whom supported Britain’s membership of the bloc.

Conversely, 95 per cent of economically deprived participants wanted Britain to leave.

According to the report, those most likely to vote Leave were those with no formal education qualifications (78 per cent) or whose highest, qualifications are CSEs or O-levels (61 per cent); those with an income of less than £1,200 per month (66 per cent); and those in social housing provided by a local authority (70 per cent) or housing association (68 per cent).

Of the rest, only younger Labour voters backed remain as a group, although they were much more divided on the issue, splitting 61 per cent remain to 39 per cent leave.


The affluent Eurosceptics – which the report defines as “middle class Conservative voters with anti-welfare views” – and the older working classes conversely swayed towards leave by a margin of around two to one. These two groups, along with the smaller group of economically deprived participants, together accounted for 51 per cent of the population.

There was also a high correlation between political disenfranchisement and the vote to leave – 58 per cent of people who agreed with the statement that “politicians do not listen to people like me” opted to Leave; while three in five of those who didn’t turn out to vote in the 2015 election also backed Brexit, against 49 per cent of those who did vote in 2015.

The findings underscore the deep social divide between the liberal haves, who supported EU membership, and the have nots, who backed Brexit, putting paid to the idea that remain appealed to a broad range of people.

However, the researchers note: “The Leave vote was underpinned by the campaign’s ability to draw together a broad-based coalition. It is much more wide-ranging than the ‘left behind’.”

Follow Donna Rachel Edmunds on Twitter: or e-mail to: