In June last year, Britain voted to leave the European Union (EU) by 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent.

Verdict takes a look at some of the most significant reasons why people voted to leave the EU.

Anti-immigrant sentiment

In 2015, 630,000 foreign national migrants came to the UK from both inside and outside the EU and an additional 333,000 arrived in the UK in 2016.

The vote for Brexit was partly fuelled by people, particularly poorer voters expressing anger at their lack of control over immigration, according to a Joseph Rowntree Foundation report published last August.

Many felt that immigrants were taking away jobs from Britons.

“Communities that over the past decade had experienced an increase in migration from EU member states were somewhat more likely to vote for Brexit,” the report said.  “For example, in Peterborough the estimated size of the EU migrant population increased by about 7 percentage points and 61 percent voted leave.”

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Areeq Chowdhury, a British writer and the founder of WebRoots Democracy said racism helped encourage such strong anti-immigrant sentiment.

He said:

It’s important we remember that this is a referendum that has only been made possible due to a long, hard-fought campaign by those on the far-right and political movements ridden with allegations of bigotry, xenophobia, and racism.

In the weeks and months after the Brexit vote, anti-immigrant hate crimes increased threefold in Leave strongholds across the country.

For most voters, “leaving the EU would mean less immigration,” wrote Matthew Goodwin, professor of politics at the University of Kent.

Follow the money

EU membership comes at a financial cost, because all member countries must pay into the EU budget.

In 2015, Britain paid the EU an estimated £13bn.

During the EU referendum campaign, however, the Leave camp claimed that exiting the EU would financially benefit the NHS, boosting its funding by £350m a week.

The $350m figure turned out to be inflated.

Dominic Cummings, campaign director for Vote Leave admitted that the majority of people would not have voted for Brexit had it not been for the false NHS claim.

He said in January:

For millions of people, £350m/NHS was about the economy and living standards — that’s why it was so effective. Would we have won without £350m/NHS? All our research and the close result strongly suggests no.


The biggest reason why people vote to leave the EU was their belief that the UK should be a self-governing entity.

People did not want their country to be accountable to a supranational body’s rules and regulations, according to a survey of 12,369 voters conducted on the day of the referendum by Lord Ashcroft.

“I persuaded myself that the sovereignty of the parliament in which I sat was more important than the tactics of a bunch of people I declined to have anything to do with,” Stephen Phillips, Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham wrote in an article for The Guardian last October.


Those who felt “strongly English” were more likely to vote for Brexit, according to professor Goodwin.

And older people were more likely to have a strong sense of identity than younger people, a survey carried out by The Independent revealed.

Forty-four percent of participants over 65 said they think of themselves as English, compared to just 21 percent of participants under 26.

More generally, the majority of older people voted to leave the EU.

Just two of the thirty areas with the highest share of over 65s voted to Remain — South Lakeland in the North West and South Hams in the South West. Every other older area voted for Brexit.