Brexit vote was driven by those who felt '˜left behind'

WORKERS on lower wages with poorer skills were the key to Britain's decision to leave the European Union, a new analysis reveals.

The referendum result in June triggered celebration at Leeds Arena where the Yorkshire votes were counted

Voters were far more likely to back Brexit if they earned less money, had poorer qualifications and lived in low skilled areas.

The research, for the York-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), provides detailed evidence to support the view held by many since the June referendum that those ‘left behind’ helped tip the balance in favour of the Leave campaign.

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JRF chief executive Julia Unwin said: “With energy focussed on the process of leaving the EU, there’s a danger the concerns of people at home are ignored. This analysis should act as beacon for politicians who often talk about representing the concerns of ordinary people.

“The rapid pace of change in the economy has left too many people without the skills and opportunity to get on in life. We must act to ensure prosperity reaches all corners of the country, and provide everyone the chance to earn a good wage in a secure job.

“Theresa May has made the right noises to overcome this and heal the divisions with a promise to make Britain work for all.

“The priority is making good on this promise.”

The research by the highly respected professor Matthew Goodwin, from the University of Kent, found average support for Leave among those earning more than £60,000 was 35 per cent compared to 58 per cent among those earning less than £20,000.

More than 70 per cent of people with no qualifications backed Brexit, those with postgraduate degrees voted Remain by the same margin.

The research also found that voters with all levels of qualification were more likely to have backed Brexit if they lived in an area that overall had low skills levels.

Yorkshire voted by 58 per cent to 42 per cent to leave the EU in the referendum.

Prof Goodwin said: “This research reveals how the referendum was not simply about our relationship with the European Union, but also shed light on the deep divides that exist in our society.”

The Remain campaign has been criticised for failing to reassure those on lower wages and with worries on issues such as EU migration that their concerns would be addressed if Britain voted to stay.

But Remain supporters have argued the Leave campaign played on those concerns.

Yorkshire MEP Richard Corbett said: “The Leave campaign deliberately and ruthlessly took advantage of the issues identified in this research, peddling lies about issues from immigration to Turkey to target precisely those people who will be most disadvantaged by Brexit.”

In a speech in Manchester later today, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron will claim that “malevolent forces” are using the referendum result to fuel racism and hate and call for protection for EU citizens in the UK.

He will argue the anger of those who feel left behind is “justified” and the political class has “abandoned people disastrously to their fate”.

Mr Farron will say: “We have those who worked as pillars of their community all their lives, running small businesses, managing farms, making a difference, only to see themselves gazumped by salaries ten or a hundred times as much by cash-hungry bankers in their twenties.

“In short, we have an underlying, aching discomfort which goes to the heart of the reasons for the immediate crisis.”