As Brexit edges closer and closer, it is worth reminding ourselves how this point was reached and why Salford voted to Leave in 2016.

Dr. Tina Patel, a criminologist at the University of Salford, conducted research into Salford Leave voters just after the vote with some of her colleagues, and shared the results of this study with SalfordNow.

More than immigration

Dr. Patel said: “Salford residents had varied reasons for voting Leave, but all of them had greater desire to have more control over immigration, and they stated or made comments which indicated that tighter controls over immigration was a key motivator for voting Leave.

Some of the respondents did express concerns about loss of that distinct Salford identity and they talked about reasons such as immigration, gentrification, and the over-development of green space as resulting in the loss of this unique Salford identity.”

Other factors that Dr. Patel discovered included lifelong Salford residents feeling marginalised and lacking access to key services.

She said: “Largely, they felt as if they were economically disadvantaged, and they felt that leaving the EU would help them get themselves back to a better financial position.

The respondents felt as if their voices, their experiences, their concerns were being marginalised and they felt quite strongly about being neglected by the local Labour council.”

Key finding

Finally, and most crucially, Dr. Patel’s research revealed a motivation to Leave that would seem to echo towns and cities all over Britain.

Salford Leave
Dr. Tina Patel. Credit: Twitter

She said:

“Some of the participants noted that they resented or blamed ‘non-indigenous’ immigrants or new affluent residents that had arrived through gentrification, they felt that these population groups were leading to a deterioration in the Salfordian identity and the sense of community and unity that respondents thought Salford had once had.

“They said that that was because of things like the newer affluent populations who arrived through gentrification (to places like Media City) had no interest in mixing with the locals, there was a view that they resided in the local area but in houses that were gated off and the immigrants had language issues or cultural issues which prevented them from wanting to mix in with the locals.”

Hard Brexit wanted

The Salford research also concluded that Leave-voting residents were seeking a hard Brexit, and are therefore unlikely to be impressed by current proceedings in Parliament.

Dr. Patel continued: “They are wanting the Brexit that was promised to them. They felt that it was something that they needed and the country needed, so they felt very strongly that a hard Brexit was needed but they were suspicious as to whether that will be delivered.”

A final finding was the trends in rhetoric in the responses of Salford Leave voters that, in Dr. Patel’s opinion, mirrored the narrative of Nigel Farage and UKIP in 2016.

She explained: “We interviewed a range of individuals, some described themselves as having left wing views, some as right wing. We had a good mix of people who voted leave. From the statements that they made, it seemed as if they were citing quite often a lot of the promises that were made by UKIP and Nigel Farage, more so than politicians like Boris Johnson.”

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