Brexit: Labour MP who said Remain voters were better educated 'has facts on his side', says former YouGov boss

 'There is quite a clear educational gradient in the way people voted in last year’s referendum,' says leading pollster

Chris Baynes
Monday 30 October 2017 13:45 GMT
Labour MP Barry Sheerman: People who voted to remain are better educated than those who voted Brexit

A leading pollster has defended a Labour MP who was accused of snobbery for pointing out people who voted against Brexit tended to be better-educated than Leave supporters.

Barry Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield, prompted gasps of disapproval from a Conservative MP and BBC journalist by claiming most of those who voted Remain in June's EU referendum "were the better educated people in our country".

He denied his comments, made during the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire regional edition of BBC One's Sunday Politics, were tantamount to branding Leave voters "thick".

Mr Sheerman, a former chair of the Commons education select committee, said: "The truth is that when you look at who voted to remain, most of them were the better educated people in our country. Absolutely, I think it's true.

"You can actually see the pattern... nearly all the university towns voted to remain."

He added: "Most people with a good education know that Brexit will damage the lives of our country."

Presenter Tim Iredale described his comments as "massively controversial," while Tory MP Stuart Andrew said he was "astounded by this snobbery".

But the former president of polling company YouGov said the Labour MP was factually correct.

“I would not use Barry Sheerman’s choice of words but the facts are broadly on his side,” Peter Kellner told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday.

He added: “Overall, people who left school at 15 or 16 voted around two to one for Brexit. [For] people who go up to A-level or equivalent qualifications [it was] 50:50. Graduates voted two to one to remain in the EU. So yes, there is quite a clear educational gradient in the way people voted in last year’s referendum.”

Mr Pellner also pointed out there was an educational divide in June's general election.

He said: “People who were for Brexit tended to move to the Conservatives. People who were remain tended to move towards Labour. So because of this educational connection it means there was quite a big swing to Labour amongst graduates. And quite a big swing to the Conservatives amongst people who left school at 15 or 16.

“If you look at the handful of seats that Labour lost in the Midlands and north to the Conservatives, they tended to have fewer graduates. You look at the seats where Labour did particularly well, in London and the university towns, they tend to have more graduates.

“There is a shadow from the referendum which affects politics and Parliament to this day.”

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