The #Brexit vote in Cornwall: why now is not the time to mock

As many Cornish children wrestle with poverty, their parents vote to leave the EU — a turn which will, at least in the short- to medium-term, make them financially worse off.


I am literally racing the tide as I write, I have to be gone within 15 minutes, so I’ll leave you with today’s Guardian article which says that 41% of Cornish children live in poverty (a figure comparable to inner city poverty, and above the national average of 25%).

Cornwall has come in for some stick over the Brexit vote — as a county we voted to leave the EU (well, 56.5% did; constituencies varied) despite needing EU grant money more than most. So when Cornwall recently tried to “insist” that the UK government confirm ongoing equivalent funding, there was worldwide laughter — not least from the Washington Post:

After residents voted for Brexit, this British county realized the E.U. might stop sending them money by Rick Noack. (Yes, we understand why you’d mock — but there’s a more complex picture behind the Cornish Brexit vote, mostly relating to the rich-poor divide and long-term poverty in some areas.)

The Washington Post subsequently published this more elucidating (and heartbreaking) piece:

Brexit will make things worse. Is that why people voted for it? by William Davies (@davies_will). I recommend you read this if you want to understand Cornwall and, for that matter, the more far-reaching issue of why it’s not a good idea allow a sustained or growing rich-poor divide anywhere, in case it’s not obvious.

To put this into perspective, Cornwall has some of the 2% most deprived (Treneere) and 5% least deprived (Helford) areas in the country. On the one hand, mansions and private yacht moorings, on the other, food banks. In 2013, based on 2010 data, this was nicely summarised: Summary of economic deprivation ranks for neighbourhoods in Cornwall — it’s a long-term issue.

There are lots of factors playing a part in the referendum results. Demographic analyses include age, income, education, heritage, identity, and voting mechanisms that contrast strategy vs. protest.

There are those who balance area needs with personal needs. There are informed voters and ignorant ones. (Anecdotally, I have heard internal policies such as the bedroom tax and Sure Start cuts cited as reasons to protest even though these were not EU policies.)

This is our country. I believe Brexit (in itself) is a horrible mistake, but clearly not everyone agreed. Either way, now is not a good time to mock each other’s beliefs. We need to analyse what just happened and why, and try to make strategic decisions that will support as many people as possible, before we go any further.

Talking of which, CYL, the tide does not wait.

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