The geography of Brexit – What geography? Modelling and predicting the outcome across 380 local authorities

David Manley, Kelvyn Jones, Ron Johnston*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
447 Downloads (Pure)


Most of the analysis before the 2016 referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union based on opinion polling data focused on which groups were more likely to support each of the two options, with less attention to the geography of that support – although some regions, especially London and Scotland, were expected to provide substantial support for Remain. Using a recently developed procedure for detailed exploration of large tables derived from survey data, this paper presents the result of a prediction of the outcome across local authorities in Great Britain using just two variables – age and qualifications. In relative terms, that prediction was reasonably accurate – although, reflecting the polls’ overestimate of support for Remain it underestimated the number of places where Leave gained a majority, as was also the case within local authorities where data were published by ward. The model’s predictive value was enhanced by post hoc incorporation of information on turnout and the number of registered electors, and taking these into account there was little evidence of substantial, additional regional variation in levels of support for Leave. Overall, regions were relatively unimportant as influences on the referendum outcome once the characteristics of the people living there were taken into account.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-203
Number of pages21
JournalLocal Economy
Issue number3
Early online date8 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


  • Brexit
  • geography
  • local authorities
  • predictive modelling


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