Editor's notes: Why did people vote Leave? Clue: It wasn't because they're unhappy

Christian May
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Britain voted to leave the EU on 23 June (Source: Getty)

The referendum result left a lot of people stunned and confused. Not just because a Leave vote was contrary to the predictions of pollsters and pundits, but because they couldn’t understand why anybody would want to leave the EU in the first place.

In the days and weeks after the vote, the very same people who predicted that it simply couldn’t happen recast themselves as experts on the motivations of those who voted Leave. One of the earliest proposed explanations – and one of the most comforting to the left-leaning institutions who failed to see the result coming – was that the Leave vote was a howl of anguish from ‘the losers of globalisation’.

Indeed, when I told one media friend that I voted Leave, he was staggered and said “but you’re not one of life’s losers”. I thanked him for the compliment and explained that there was a bit more to it than that. My motivation sprang from a long-held discomfort with the EU’s direction of travel, and a deeply held feeling that democracy and sovereignty are not merely academic concepts and are in fact worth seeking to restore.

Read more: Article 50: MPs will get five days to debate Brexit bill

I don’t speak for all Brexit backers, of course, and it’s true that there were a variety of reasons behind the vote. But too often the 52 per cent of voters who backed Leave have been described as angry, tricked, frustrated, left behind or confused. Rarely are they credited with having thought about the issues. This week, Labour’s Clive Lewis said that the referendum was really a proxy vote for “are you happy with your life” – an appallingly condescending and arrogant analysis.

In reality, the evidence shows that reinstating democratic control over our law-making was by far the biggest motivation for Leave voters, ahead of concerns over immigration. Until the likes of Clive Lewis come to understand this, they will struggle to adapt successfully to the forces now shaping the world around them.

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Not sure this one is meant for me, Reg

I get plenty of feedback on our stories or editorial stance – and plenty more emails asking why we’ve run out of copies in Morden or why we don’t yet deliver in Brighton. We’re working on these issues, I assure you. Yesterday, however, a complaint arrived by email that left me quite unable to assist: “Dear Morrisons, why do you not have turmeric in stock? I’ve asked people but never get an answer.” Can anyone from Morrisons help Reg from Skegness?

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