14/02/2017 17:12 GMT

Brexit Vote Research Shows How Much More Likely Social Conservatives Were To Vote Leave

Voters' views on totally unrelated issues mattered.

As Brexit exposes the deep divisions in British society, new research has identified the correlation between voting Leave and holding conservative positions on unrelated topics including religion, being gay and women going to work.

Think tank Demos broke down the data from its research to estimate the likelihood people with certain views and experiences would back Brexit.

They found big differences in, for example, how people who supported ethnic diversity voted compared with how those who disapprove of it did.

Many of the issues had nothing to do with the question in the EU referendum.

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A pro-Brexit demonstrator chants during a protest outside the Houses of Parliament

Report co-author Sophie Gaston told HuffPost UK that the research suggested those with the “closed attitudes” were more likely to back Brexit.

She said: “There was a strong relationship between social conservatism and likelihood to want to leave the European Union.

“The analysis suggests that these factors complement one another in underpinning more ‘closed’ attitudes, as opposed to those with more socially liberal, internationalist mindsets, who we found to be more naturally trusting, open people and more likely to vote Remain.

“There are obviously exceptions, but broadly these two different ways of seeing the world played a strong role in shaping the Leave and Remain positions.”

If you held any of these points of view, you were more likely to vote Leave.

1. Being religious

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Those who identifying as religious were 9% more likely to vote Leave. The likelihood of atheists backing Brexit was 47%. If you identified as religious, the specific religion did not impact the likelihood of you backing Brexit, with both Christians and followers of “other religions” having a 56% of doing so.

2. Disapproving or being neutral about women going to work

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Those who think more women working has been a good thing were 19% less likely to back Brexit than those who had neutral or negative view of it. The former group had a 45% likelihood of voting Leave while the latter had a 64% likelihood.

3. Not meeting someone from elsewhere in Britain


Conventional wisdom is that Remainers are out of touch and never leave their metropolises to visit parts of the country where immigration is stretching resources. Not socialising with foreigners made you more likely to vote Leave (57% compared with 43% of those who had) but so did not associating with people from another part of the country (58% compared with 48%) or another town (57% compared with 48%).

4. Disliking diversity

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This is a more predictable factor, given the role of immigration in the debate. But the difference on how people on either side of the issue would vote is striking: People with a favourable view of diversity were 29% less likely to back Brexit. Thinking “ethnic and religious” diversity was positive meant you had a 36% chance of voting Leave, compared with 65% if you didn’t.

5. Not trusting other people 


When people’s social trust is low - rated between zero and three on a scale of up to 10 - they had a 75% chance of backing Brexit. Those whose social trust was rated between eight and 10 were 28% less likely to do so. 

6. Disapproving of gay relationships 

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People who felt same-sex relationships were a good thing had a 46% change of voting Leave, compared with 61% who took a neutral or negative stance.

7. Favouring a strong leader

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If you favoured “consensual” leadership, you had a 47% chance of backing Brexit, compared with 57% if you were neutral of favoured “strong” leadership.

A ‘spectre of fear’

Demos conducted the research as part of a report that found a “spectre of fear” was haunting Europe and trust in national governments and the EU is at a historic low.

The report warned that the breadth of the factors that influenced how people voted showed “leaving the EU will not bridge the deep divides that found their expression in the referendum”.

“After the referendum, numerous commentators argued that it was time to listen to the people and to take their concerns seriously,” it noted.

“Leave supporters were a diverse coalition with diverse concerns, and did not speak with a single voice.”