In Focus: Trade Inside the European Union

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Political InsightThe outcome of the referendum over the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union raises some crucial questions over the country’s economic relationship with the remaining 27 member states. Economic issues over trade were among the most heavily debated issues throughout the campaign. Now that the decision has been made, existing ties with the EU need to be carefully considered in any future trade relationship with the European Union. In a contribution for the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (December 2016, Volume 7, Issue 3) I mapped out Britain’s complex trading relations with the rest of the European Union and created a series of cartograms from the underlying statistics:

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EU Referendum Statistics

Sanity is not statistical.” The political rhetoric in the aftermath of the EU referendum in the United Kingdom has brought us closer to Orwell’s infamous state of Airstrip One then one could have possibly envisaged. Each side of the debate twists and turns the statistics and ‘facts’ to keep supporting their argument, while neither political party has yet managed to end the political stalemate in the country, which finds itself in a state of ‘post-truth democracy‘ that it slowly entered during the pre-referendum campaigns. All sides claim what can be best explained with the German word ‘Deutungshoheit’ (a form of prerogative of interpreting the numbers behind the result as the ultimate truth). The real truth perhaps is that there is no truth, and the deeper you delve into the results, the more complexity you find. So here are some more less-talked about findings that emerge when taking a second look at the EU referendum statistics.
As mentioned in my earlier piece on mapping the referendum outcome, of all those who were allowed to vote in this referendum, 13 million people did decide not to cast their vote, which – despite the higher than currently usual turnout – is a significant number that could have made a difference in the close outcome either way. Amongst those that voted the immediate picture that emerged from the polls published after the referendum was confusing. Several polls, such as those paid for by Lord Ashcroft and used for this analysis, agreed that the older people were those who were more likely to vote for Leave, while the youngest had the largest share voting for Remain. However, when taking the total electorate into account, and considering those who – according to SkyData – chose not to vote (or spoilt their ballot), this picture became far less clear than it first seemed:

EU Referendum 2016 Statistics: Age groups

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The EU Referendum

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EU Referendum 2016 Cartogram
(click for larger version)

The decision has been made: 17,410,742 people of the United Kingdom’s 65 million population voted for leaving the European Union. These are about 26.8% of the UK’s resident population, or 37.4% of the electorate in this EU referendum. It also equals 51.9% of the valid votes cast, as stated in the official figures from the electoral commission. Continue reading