The end of the ethnic bloc vote? Ethnic minority Leavers after the Brexit referendum

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Brexit has reshaped British electoral politics, but little attention has been paid to the post-referendum politics of the roughly 1 million ethnic minorities who voted for Leave. This is an important omission; ethnic minority support for Brexit was higher than expected despite the Leave side mobilising white ethnocentric voters, and the cross-ethnic appeal of the Leave campaign allowed it to distinguish itself from other purely anti-immigrant political projects. We show that realignment of minority voters in the 2019 general election was limited among minorities, despite the high salience of Brexit. Using semi-structured interview data, we find that both Conservative and Labour Leavers agreed that racism is a problem, but those who voted Conservative in 2019 saw it as less relevant to politics, prioritising Brexit instead. Labour Leavers on the other hand described themselves as habitual Labour supporters, explaining their vote with reference to Labour’s perceived position of the party of ordinary people, understood as working class and ethnic minority voters. These results demonstrate that while the 2016 vote managed to defy accusations of being an ethnocentric project unacceptable to ethnic minorities, 2019 Conservatives fell victim of the ethnocentric focus of their campaign and failed to benefit from a substantial amount of support for Brexit among minorities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPS - Political Science and Politics
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2023


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