Values and Brexit – where now?

January 2018
Common Cause Foundation

In 2017, we collected data from 1200 people across Greater Manchester, asking about people’s values and how they voted in the 2016 EU Referendum. We then worked with Dr Paul Hanel at the University of Bath to analyse this data. This report presents the results of this research and our analysis of the role that values may have played in the Brexit debate.

this if...

  • You’re interested in how different sides in the Brexit debate appealed to different values, and the likely effectiveness of these strategies.
  • You’re interested in communicating on Brexit-related issues today and want to understand more about how different arguments for or against EU membership connect with different values.

Keys Takeaways

  1. Across Greater Manchester people placed greatest importance on Benevolence values, followed by Universalism and Security values.
  2. A “Remain” vote was predicted by Stimulation and Universalism values – people who held these values to be more important were more likely to report having voted to remain in the EU. Yet these values were largely ignored by Remain campaigners. Indeed, we show evidence that the Remain campaign tended to appeal to opposing Power values.
  3. A “Leave” vote was predicted by Tradition, Conformity and Security values – people who held these values to be more important were more likely to report having voted to leave the EU. These were also values with which the Leave campaign strongly connected.
  4. But we also found a group of Leave voters for whom Self-direction values were important: perhaps reflecting the success of the “Take back control” slogan central to the Leave campaign. This campaign approach seems to have split people for whom Self-direction values are important — between those who voted Leave and those who voted Remain.
  5. We make some recommendations about how groups seeking to either strengthen support for the EU, or weaken this, might frame their arguments. 

Other resources
you might like

Governments Can Change People’s Values: A Briefing on Policy Feedback

Perceptions Matter: Report & Summary

Limitations of environmental campaigning based on values for money, image and status

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