What is all about immigration?
The immigration issue is highly emotive and received a lot of media focus during the Brexit campaign and many claims and counter claims were made. Many have claimed this one issue was the crucial issue motivating people to vote Leave. “If Britain votes to leave the EU it will be because of hostility to immigration”. Simon Tilford Deputy director, Centre for European Reform (writing prior to the vote).
Lots has been said and written about Brexit, much of it based on speculation and inference. Arkenford is an evidence based consultancy, we seek to base our insight and recommendations on robust analysis of our client’s data and their customer’s perspectives.
Therefore, we thought amongst all the hype we would give our panellists a chance to express in their own terms why they voted as they did and what they think about the future.
We ran an open survey running from the 28th of June to the 1st of July asking 1000 members of our QArk panel:
- What were the most important issues that influenced their vote?
- Who they trusted most during the campaign, and
- What they think will happen now.
Data was weighted to reflect the outcome of the referendum and the socio-demographic pattern of voters.
What Are the Issues that Matter to Leavers and Remainers?
There was and still is little meeting of minds in the debate – both sides were extremely polarised in their views and they do not even agree on which issues are the most important.
More than 60% of Remainers feel that:
- The short term economic costs
- The long term economic prospects, and
- The need to stay in the EU to be a positive influence are key reasons for us to remain
More than 75% of Leavers feel that:
- A desire to be ruled by the UK parliament
- A belief that making our own laws will be better for Britain
- Getting our money back from the EU are key reasons for us to leave
Our survey reveals that the Leave camp are more ardent in their opinions. Based on the net proportion of voters strongly agreeing with each issue, those holding strong leave views considerably outnumber those holding strong remain views in almost all areas.
On this basis the scale of immigration was a much more strongly held view among Leave voters than the counter argument held among the Remain voters that immigration is a positive thing.
However, this is not the whole story. While 57% of Leave voters feel strongly about the scale of immigration, only 3% claimed this as the only issue they feel strongly about. 34% claimed that they feel strongly about all four of the top 4 ranked leave issues.
Furthermore, it would be unfair to claim that this was simply a vote to turn our backs on the world; 83% of Leave voters feel that ‘Greater freedom to trade with the Commonwealth and the rest of the world” is important or very important. Furthermore, 88% say they feel ‘EU corruption’ was an important issue for them.
Simply basing our response to the Leave vote as a demand for an end to EU immigration would be dangerously simplistic. Removing this one issue from the campaign might it appears have only reduced the Leave vote by 3%. Even after the chaos following the vote only 6% of Leave voters say they would reconsider their vote if asked again.
People’s motivations are rarely one dimensional and rarely well revealed by anecdotal evidence. Well-structured research can reveal the complexity of the public’s (or your customer’s motivations) and create the foundation for better decisions.
We hope that the coming negotiations will take fully into account the complexity of both sides’ motivations and seek the least divisive way forward.