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Centre for Brexit Studies to host event based on voting research


The Centre for Brexit Studies (CBS) will discuss their research into why people voted the way they did in the EU referendum at an online event.

Building awareness 

Brexit and Devolution – Understanding Voters and Feeling ‘Left Behind’ takes place on Wednesday 28 October and will be hosted by the Director of CBS, Professor Alex De Ruyter.

“What we’re really looking to do is build awareness, both of the research and the issues at play,” Alex explains.

“We’d also love the opportunity to connect with communities in the areas we’re studying, whether that confirms our results or leads to contradictory findings.

“Ultimately, we hope to build up a nuanced picture of identity and what drives the perception of being “left behind” (including those who do not feel that way).”

The event also features an array of guest speakers, including:

  • Professor Geoff Whittam - Professor at Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Arantza Gomez Arana - Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Northumbria University and Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Brexit Studies
  • Professor Calvin Jones - Deputy Dean for Public Value and External Relations at Cardiff Business School

Investigating regional disparities

The event is based upon extensive research conducted by Alex and Professor Whittam, who both discussed the research in a recent CBS podcast.

They investigated selected areas within the West Midlands and Scotland, aiming to explore whether people in these regions feel they have a show in how their local areas are run.

“We’ve been working on the field of regional disparities in the UK for some time,” Alex says.  “A lot of research around Brexit suggests that this may have been important. It was clear that a lot of people felt alienated not just from Brussels but from Westminster.”

Alex says that they found a notable difference between Scottish and English participants.

“In particular, devolution (of the level and scale enjoyed by Scotland) seemed to make a real difference,” he explains. “There was still alienation from Westminster but a perception that Holyrood provided a bulwark against this.

“In contrast, the West Midlands is crying out for more responsive governance. This appears to be even more important than the economic issues.

“The other interesting insight was the extent to which the seat of power became associated with the party in office.

“So for many nationalist Scots, Westminster was seen as a Tory seat of power – there was a perception of never-ending Conservative governments that they could do nothing about.”

Enhancing public understanding

Alex hopes the research will enhance understanding of the interplay between regional issues and public discontent.

“Ultimately, if we want to empower people to truly “take back control” of their lives and political affairs, greater devolution appears necessary,” he says.

“Hopefully, this research will help underpin some of that agenda. In light of the recent standoff between Greater Manchester and the London government, this is becoming even more urgent.

“The most profound consequence of Brexit might not be leaving the EU but instead a new constitutional settlement for the UK – including England and its regions.”

Blogs, podcasts and further academic insight can be found at CBS’ WordPress page.