Nicole Martin

Left out of the left behind? Ethnic minority support for Brexit

3:30pm - 5:00pm / Thursday 22nd October 2020
Type: Webinar / Category: Department / Series: Black History Month
  • Admission: This is a free event.
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Abstract: The concept of the left behind voter – socially and economically marginalised older, poorly educated white men and their communities – has been used extensively in explaining Euroscepticism and support for populism. Such accounts based on economic marginalisation omit ethnic minority voters, despite the worse economic standing (on average) of ethnic minorities. This leads to two wide spread beliefs: that being left behind is a white phenomenon, often driven by white nostalgia, and that support for Euroscepticism is absent among ethnic minorities. Through the example of Brexit, we show that neither is true. Support for Brexit was common among ethnic minorities, although still lower than support for Remain. Moreover, education levels, age, and generation (key parts of the left behind story) divide Leavers from Remainers among ethnic minorities just as among white British voters. And Brexit was also a partially cross-cutting issue among ethnic minorities – both Labour and Conservative ethnic minority voters were split by Brexit. This leads us to question the implicit treatment of whiteness in left behind arguments, and therefore to urge researchers working with the concept of left behind to consider and measure more explicitly whiteness as a set of racialised attitudes, rather inferring such attitudes for socio-economic characteristics.
Bio: Dr Martin is an expert on the politics of ethnic minority and immigrant voters in Britain, and the topic of ethnicity and immigration in politics more broadly. She works frequently with Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study, which has large ethnic minority and immigrant boost samples, and is the Politics and Social Attitudes Topic Champion on the study’s Scientific Leadership Team.

For further information or for receiving the Zoom meeting details please contact Dr Luca Bernardi (