The Weakness of European Wales
From Planet 225

Why did Wales vote to leave the EU and Scotland vote to remain? Richard Marsden and Penni Bestic argue that to answer this question we need to examine how the Welsh and Scottish people perceive their turbulent national histories, and how this informs their sense of belonging.

One of the shocks of the Brexit referendum was that, while Scotland voted emphatically to stay in the EU, Wales voted out. This demolished the received wisdom aligning Euro-scepticism with the political Right, since Wales as a whole has tended to lean Left since the early twentieth century. The result also surprised commentators because Wales has been the beneficiary of so much EU funding. To some it looked like the turkeys had voted for Christmas.

That, of course, is a gross over-simplification of an outcome which resulted from a complex set of inter-related factors. Various suggestions have been put forward to explain the Leave vote as a whole, including wealth inequality, an educational divide, young vs. old, the influence of the right-wing print media and a trans-national revolt against established elites. These would all have had a major influence on the result in both Wales and Scotland. However they don’t tell us why these two nations, which claim a dubious Celtic kinship and which occupy similarly devolved positions within the United Kingdom, voted differently.

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