How did our constituencies vote in the EU Referendum?

It’s obvious from the maps published after the referendum that several former Liberal Democrat seats voted remain – Cambridge, Bath, Cheltenham, Lewes and others. It’s equally obvious that plenty didn’t – all of them in Cornwall and Devon, for example. But because the results were counted and declared by local authority area, we haven’t been able to tell how individual constituencies voted – until now.

Chris Hanretty, Reader in Politics at the University of East Anglia, has tried to estimate how all the 574 Parliamentary seats in England and Wales voted (it’s a reasonable assumption that all or almost all Scottish seats voted remain). He’s taken each council area result and applied demographic factors – average age in the area, the proportion of residents with degrees, average income, etc. – which we know are strongly associated with voting leave or remain to break it down to constituency levels. He can’t be precise, of course, but his model fits reasonably well the results in the 26 local authority areas which are also parliamentary constituencies.

He expresses the result as an estimated leave vote with a prediction interval (i.e. a range of outcomes, since we can’t be precise) on either side. You can see his reasoning, and download the full spreadsheet here.

Based on his calculations, this is how all the seats Liberal Democrats won at the 2010 election break down, in descending order of the remain vote (seats we hold now are in bold):

Definitely remain (entire range of outcomes more than 50 per cent remain vote): Bristol West, Hornsey & Wood Green, Manchester Withington, Cardiff Central, Twickenham, Cambridge, Bermondsey & Old Southwark, Bath, Sheffield Hallam, Leeds North West, Cheltenham, Kingston & Surbiton, Norwich South, Ceredigion

Probably remain (outcome range extends to leave vote, but mainly remain): Portsmouth South, Cheadle, Brent Central, Westmorland & Lonsdale, Colchester, Lewes

Probably leave (outcome range extends to remain vote, but mainly leave): Brecon & Radnorshire, Sutton & Cheam, Chippenham, Southport, Taunton Deane, Somerton & Frome, St Ives, Hazel Grove, Carshalton & Wallington, Thornbury & Yate, Wells

Definitely leave (entire outcome range more than 50 per cent leave vote): Eastbourne, Solihull, Mid Dorset & North Poole, Eastleigh, North Devon, Berwick-upon-Tweed, North Cornwall, Burnley, Torbay, Bradford East, North Norfolk, Yeovil, St Austell & Newquay, Birmingham Yardley, Redcar

Adding in the 11 Scottish seats we won in 2010 gives a total of 31 of our seats (including 5 we hold now) definitely or probably voting remain, and 26 seats (including 3 we hold now) definitely or probably voting leave. The strongest remain seats are Bristol West, with an estimated 80 per cent remain vote, or, of the seats we hold now, Sheffield Hallam, on 65 per cent; the strongest leave seats are Redcar, on 66 per cent leave, or, of the seats we hold now, North Norfolk, on 61 per cent.

Given that almost two-thirds of the seats in total (three-quarters in England and Wales) voted to leave, that’s quite a strong skew towards remain-voting areas – as we might expect – and it helps to identify some of the seats we might hope to win back at the next election on the back of pro-remain feeling.

But let’s not forget that we need to win seats in areas that voted leave too. I would expect that Liberal Democrat voters in those areas were predominantly remain, but by no means all of them were – and we also know that, overall, a third of Liberal Democrat voters voted leave.

So while I believe that Tim Farron’s declaration that Liberal Democrats see the UK’s future lying within the EU as absolutely right, we also need to respond to the concerns that drove people to vote leave – including economic and political inequality, powerlessness, the feeling that they’ve been ignored by the elites, and much more. Liberal Democrats and our predecessor parties have historically stood up for communities on the political and economic periphery of the country, and we need to keep on doing so.

* Duncan Brack is a member of the Federal Policy Committee and chaired the FPC’s working group that wrote Rebuilding Trade and Cooperation with Europe.

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  • If you look at the breakdown of the signatures on the second referendum petition

    I think you’ll soon spot were your target seats will be.

    As to the disposed who are crying for a light at the end of the tunnel, well you’ll have to come up with some policies to help them; bit of a hint cutting their benefits and imposing educational taxes don’t play well with them, offering a secure future and a step up the ladder will.

  • The Financial Times has just featured the following comment to one of its articles:

    At the next general election if there is one, I suggest the FT addresses to every candidate the following questions:
    1. What objectives will you seek in negotiations with the EU?
    2. What objectives will you not compromise on?
    3. Will you put the result of negotiations to a second referendum?
    4. Do you, instead, wish to remain in the EU?”
    (behind a pay wall)

    There’s a tremendous opportunity for LibDems to gather a large chunk of pro EU support, especially if all the other candidates in a given constituency reply negatively to question 4. Just imagine the results with the Brexit vote split amongst them?

  • Tony Dawson 30th Jun '16 - 1:06pm

    The General Election will not only be fought on the EU. The economy is in a right mess. The NHS is falling to bits and Social Care for Elderly is collapsing in many places.

    I not that Westmorland’s vote was rather better than predicted by Mr Hanratty. The reason is that there were easily 30 per cent of voters who didn’t have strong views one way or another. A decent campaign across the country would have liberated the nation’s genuine slight preference of ‘Remain’. I am amazed ‘Remain’ did so well with a useless fragmented national campaign fronted up by an unpopular Prime Minister who failed to bring home the bacon from Brussels and wasn’t even brave enough to debate with Boris – and a Labour contribution nationally which was worse than useless.

  • I would be more inclined to vote Liberal if the Liberal Imperialist faction of the party were restored. Right now the “little England” Gladstonites who want to surrender Britain’s independence to Germany are too horrible for words.

    We need a party whose slogan is “Free Trade and Defence of Empire” like that great Liberal, Lord Palmerston.

  • Stuart Brown 30th Jun '16 - 2:35pm

    From box counts in Portsmouth South, we know we won three wards comfortably, two definitely went to leave, and two were marginal, but the constituency was leaning to remain overall.

  • Mark Goodrich 4th Jul '16 - 2:38am

    Hi Duncan

    Thanks for sharing and adding to the analysis.

    A more optimistic approach might be to look at all the seats where Remain definitely won and consider all of them as possible targets in the next election (in which the EU will have a lot more saliency than usual). Obviously, not all of them can be targets but places with a high Remain vote and a Eurosceptic MP (either Tory or Labour – yes, Lambeth should be on the list) should be looked at seriously.

  • Richard Underhill 4th Jul '16 - 10:16am

    Liberal Democrats should prepare for the possibility of an early general election by adopting prospective parliamentary candidates. If there is an early general election they will be needed, if not they will lead campaigning. Complicating this issue is the problems that the Tories have after the investigations by Michael Crick on Channel 4 News. What Liberal Democrats decide is only part of it, UKIP have an interest as well.

  • The count in Edinburgh was done by UK parliamentary constituency.

    The result for Edinburgh West was 71% remain.

  • Ryan Elliott 10th Jul '16 - 5:34pm

    According to a Labour official in Sutton, they believe Remain won by 50.5% in Sutton and Cheam whilst Leave won by 57.5% in Carshalton and Wallington. 8 out of 18 wards were for Remain (probably Cheam, Carshalton Beeches, South Sutton) and two wards were very close.

    Funny thing is that the new Tory MP for Sutton and Cheam Paul Scully voted Out, whilst his constituency voted In. On the other hand Tom Brake’s constituency voted Out.

  • Lillian Lowery 7th Nov '16 - 11:12am

    How can I find out the result for my Constituency in the Referendum?

  • I can understand that tim farron is representing his constituency by fighting against brexit but the majority of the areas held by liberal MPs voted to leave the EU
    Am I now to believe that the liberals no longer stand for democracy

  • Accusations of it being undemocratic to campaign against the result of the 2016 EU Referendum disappear when its pointed out that Leave ignored the democratic will of the people (made in the 1973 European Referendum) to remain in Europe. Sarah Olney could point out that the MPs who campaigned to overturn the previous result didn’t seem to think it affected the validity of their own electoral wins.
    Popular Policies/Campaigns useful to Remain
    (1) The government have indicated that they are going to give up on the triple lock on pensions. If the Lib Dems undertake to keep this (which will be easily affordable if we stay in the EU) then that will help swing voting away from Tories in Tory seats and nullify the pro Leave tendency amongst the elderly.
    (2) A lot of elderly voters were reproached by their children/grandchildren for voting Leave, so campaigning that Remain being a vote for your children’s/grandchildre’s future would be a useful point to make. I believe that Germany gives students from the EU grants to study there and also runs skills training.
    (3) Adequate funding and no privatisation for the NHS (either by farming bits of it off to private companies or by direct privatisation).
    (4) Local Campaigns – the constituency of Dover put in strong vote to Leave, but that vote did not calculate for the effect on Dover Docks, which due to the lack of space to provide a customs area for lorry inspection, would be forced to close turning it into a ghost town. I also suspect that a lot of people locally were frightened by the Jungle in Calais and confused refugees with EU migration. said confusion being because the refugees were located in France.
    (5) Positive campaigning – during the EU Referendum Remain got accused of scaremongering. Leave was actually infinitely worse but ran their campaign as saving things. So the LIb Dems could do likewise by campaigning to save whatever it is that would be lost locally if the UK leaves the EU i.e. ‘save Dover Docks’.

  • I am a Labour voter who also voted Remain. I voted strategically for the Lib Dems once before to try and get PR (I still think PR is important). I would vote strategically for the Lib Dems again on a Remain ticket. I personally know others who would do likewise.

  • Joan Topping 19th Oct '19 - 4:04pm

    I cannot understand why you think our Brexit vote should be ignored. I am retired but worked and paid tax for 46 years bringing up with my husband three wonderful, kind children. I was a carer for my elderly parents for over 20 years and am now a carer for my elderly 92 year old sister. Still I am told that I don’t understand what Brexit is all about and if I did I would have voted to remain. The leaders of the European union are unelected, their books are not audited as far as I can tell, the wastage of money beggars belief and the destruction of our fishing industry since joining is unforgivable. I voted against joining the Common Market in the seventies because I believed then that it would not just be a common market has been proven right but the majority voted to join so I accepted the result. Not so now democracy has been fought by your party and as in war I will defend democracy to the end as the alternative is fearful. Please oh please listen to us and don’t assume we are ignorant fools especially those from the north of England. I am not racist I welcome anyone who want to come here to work or who are fleeing from persecution. I just want them to come when we can care for them and let them have homes to buy or rent. I love Europeans but we elect our government every 4 to 5 years and I cannot understand why we should accept anything else. If I am wrong in anything I say I would love to hear and be corrected but over the years no one has been able to. So many people I have spoken to feel the same and all will fight for our democracy and right to our opinions without being spoken down to as if we have no idea. A reply would be most appreciated.
    Kind Regards
    Joan Topping

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