UKIP MEP Steven Woolfe has claimed that the EU referendum result was won by the Leave campaign because of a deep class divide in the UK.
There has been much discussion on why the Remain side – who were almost universally tipped to win – ended up losing the vote.
But Woolfe said the answer was simple – the widening gap between rich and poor.
He said: “The result is a clear message that there is now a divide in this country.
“You can call it a class divide, but it’s certainly a divide between the rich and the poor.
“It’s between those with money in more affluent cities who have benefitted from Government and EU funding and – on the other side – those in smaller towns with high unemployment and pressures on their schooling, housing and hospitals.
“I think the body politic in this country has to understand that the majority of MPs who are saying we should stay in the EU are out of kilter with their constituents.
“They are promoting an ideal and it doesn’t correlate with the reality for the vast number of people outside of the metropolitan cities or the comfortable areas.”
One of the most glaring examples of this is that of Boston, a small borough of around 64,000 in the East Midlands, the inhabitants of which voted 75.6% to leave.
An estimated 15% of its population were born outside the UK, 11% of which were born in EU countries, particularly Eastern Europe.
This situation is mirrored in many other working-class areas of England such as Great Yarmouth in Norfolk and Castle Point in Essex, with over 70% of both voting to leave.
Of all the UK’s constituent countries, England had the biggest majority for Leave with 53.2% but the biggest contrast to this was Scotland’s vote to remain with 62%.
Woolfe said: “There is a strong group of people who want independence in Scotland and they correlate that with a Scottish nation-state being independent within the EU.
“I always find it odd that they say they don’t want to be ruled by England but never understand that being a member of the EU actually means being ruled by them.
“While I respect their decision, they will need to paint a clear picture of what the reality of life will be like outside of the UK and try to get in the EU.”
The decision to leave has caused shockwaves to the UK economy with sterling falling to a 31 year low against the US dollar.
As a result, Chancellor George Osborne announced that the Government will abandon its plan to restore Government finances to a surplus by 2020 and the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has also announced safeguarding measures.
“I’m not overly concerned about the massive movements in sterling,” added Woolfe.
“Our currency has been declining in the UK since the end of 2013 but regardless, once the free trade arrangements are put in place with the EU, we’ll see the markets improve.”
A petition to parliament calling for a re-run of the referendum has reached over four million signatures and Labour MP David Lammy recently urged parliament to block Britain’s EU departure.
Woolfe however, put out a warning to any politician looking to void the result.
He said: “I think there are enough MPs out there who are smarting from being beaten and might want to try constitutional tricks.
“Any MP that does so would be utterly dishonest having said that we would respect this vote and should therefore be challenged.
“This is the first time that people could just vote with their hearts rather than for a political party and they’ve sent out a message which should be respected.”
Labour Remain campaigner, Lisa Nandy, who has recently resigned from the shadow cabinet, also spoke directly after the result was announced.
Echoing Steven Woolfe’s comments about the finality of the result, she said: “I’m absolutely clear that parliament has to accept this decision; quite honestly, you cannot call a referendum and then dispute the result.
“Parliament has to go further than that and understand the fears and concerns that have been expressed on both sides of the argument.
“If there is one thing that I think unites most of the people who voted both Leave and Remain, it is dissatisfaction with the way things currently are, not just about the EU, but about the country as a whole.
“I think they’ve sent a very clear message to us with the result that the status quo is not an option and that change has to come.”
Image courtesy of Abi Begum via Flickr, with thanks.