Why Britain’s Eurosceptic regions have the most to lose from a "Leave" voteby John Springford / June 9, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: The worst thing for Iain Duncan Smith’s “have-nots” would be Brexit
It looks as if the “Leave” camp will focus on immigration for the remainder of the referendum campaign. Judging from the latest polls this might turn out to be a winning strategy.
“Leave’s” portrayal of “Remain” as representatives of rich London-based elites who are the main beneficiaries of EU integration resonates most strongly in regions outside of London. Their economies have been struggling since the 2008 crash.
But new research co-authored by the Centre for European Reform and the University of Groningen throws up an unexpected irony: it turns out that it is these regions, not London and its rich commuter belt, that have most to lose from leaving the EU.
There is a positive correlation between a region’s level of economic integration with the EU and that region’s Euroscepticism.
We looked at the proportion of a region’s economic output which is sold to the rest of the EU—either directly, in the form of exports, or indirectly, with domestic companies supplying goods and services to exporters—and compared it to findings from the British Election Survey, which asks people how they would vote in the EU referendum and breaks down to a constituency level.
We saw that London and Scotland, the most pro-EU areas of the UK, are less economically integrated with the EU than the UK average. Meanwhile, outside the prosperous south east, rural counties such as North Yorkshire and Dorset, and more urban ones, like West Yorkshire and Lancashire, are more integrated with the EU, and also tend to be more Eurosceptic.
London exports more per person than any other region in Britain, so to many observers, the fact that London sells less to the EU will be rather surprising—especially to those who think the EU only benefits the “metropolitan elite.” There are three reasons why. First, London’s trade is more global. Typically, London sells around 10 percentage points less of its exports to the EU than other regions. This is because the services sector is less dependent on EU demand, and London…