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LETTER: EU is better than the alternative

Readers' letters | Published:

John Stretton attributes support for remaining in the EU to ‘powerful rich elites’. Hmm, never let anything so mundane as a fact get in your way.

If asked to name prominent leave supporters, I think most people would mention Nigel Farage (Dulwich College) and Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg (both Eton). Rees-Mogg’s fragant wife’s family owns the largest privately owned house in the UK. This looks pretty much like a ‘powerful rich elite’ to me. It doesn’t stop there. The website for Leave means Leave helpfully includes mug-shots of its top team: one white woman, 43 white men, with a disproportionate number of public school products.

Now let me turn to the remain camp. The strongest indicator of how people would vote in the referendum was level of academic qualification, with the more highly qualified more likely to vote remain. Let me just look at one nuance and one apparent contradiction to that rule.

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The contradiction was a handful of council wards, mainly in Birmingham, with poorly educated residents but an unexpectedly high remain vote. All had a substantial population of south Asian ethnic origin. So, people in areas like Sparkbrook, despite low incomes and limited education, could see through the nonsense of the leave campaigners. Maybe that’s an area for further research.

I turn now to the nuance. A number-cruncher looking at voting, income and education data confirmed what already seemed to be the case. Remain voting was not highest among graduates who had monetised their degrees and were ‘doing all right, thank you’, but among those engaged in ‘books rich, cash poor’ occupations, such as teachers, nurses and social workers.

A preference to remain in the EU – whether through enthusiasm or through feeling, as I do, that EU membership, like old age, is better than the alternative – is not an elite preoccupation.

Alan T Harrison

Walsall

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