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Full English Brexit?

30 September 2015

EU flag moving in the wnd

New survey shows that 70% of those who define themselves as exclusively English would vote for Brexit

New findings released today by researchers from Cardiff shows the extent to which the Labour Party is currently out of sync with an increasingly politicised English national identity.

Data from the Future of England Survey reveals that 70% of those who define themselves as exclusively English in terms of their national identity would vote for the UK to leave the EU as opposed to 17% who would vote to remain. By contrast, 52% of those people living in England who feel British and not English would vote to remain in the EU, as opposed to 28% who would vote to leave.

The same survey also underlines the extent of dissatisfaction in England with the United Kingdom itself. Support for the territorial status quo – that is, a situation in which laws affecting England are made by all MPs elected to the House of Commons – has now fallen to no more than around 1 in 5 of the English electorate.

Previous Future of England Surveys, conducted by a team of researchers at Cardiff and Edinburgh Universities, have shown that discontent in England with both of the political unions of which England is a part – the United Kingdom and the European Union – is particularly apparent among those with a strongly or exclusively English sense of national identity.

The 2015 survey provided dramatic confirmation of this pattern. When asked to choose between different options for the future governance of England – a move to English Votes for English Laws (EVEL), the development of city regions, or the maintenance of the status quo – 74% of those with an exclusively English sense of National Identity supported EVEL compared with 9% who supported the development of city regions. Only 3% of these respondents supported the status quo. Among those with an exclusively British national identity, support for the various options was much more evenly spread. EVEL was again the most popular option with 34% support, followed by city regions with 25%, while another 23% supported the status quo.

Data from the 2015 Future of England Survey will be discussed for the first time at a fringe event organised by Cardiff University at the Labour Party’s Annual Conference in Brighton.

Professor Richard Wyn Jones from the University’s Wales Governance Centre said:

“In a speech last week in London, former party policy coordinator, Jon Cruddas, claimed that ‘England will decide Labour’s future’. Given that some 85% of the UK electorate live in England, this is surely right.

“These data serve to throw into stark relief the extent of the challenge facing Labour given the rise of a politicised English national identity. With the party – if not its new leader – so strongly in favour of EU membership and apparently implacably opposed to any moves towards a system of English Votes for English Laws, Labour is out of sync with English national sentiment.

“Whilst some in the Labour may be tempted to dismiss constitutional questions as irrelevant, the fate of the party in Scotland should serve to remind them of dangers of becoming too detached from national sentiment.”

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