Several areas in London are odds on to be the place that votes to Remain in the EU in the largest numbers. Clacton-on-Sea is odds on to be the place which votes most heavily for Leave. Two things are interesting about this. One, the places in London voting for Remain are the areas most directly affected by EU immigration, i.e. that’s where the EU immigrants live. Meanwhile, Clacton is 95% both white and British born. They blame their woes on immigrants – despite the fact that there are none where they live, and if immigration fell to 0%, it would affect them and their lives 0%.
The second thing that is interesting about the London-Clacton divide is that if we vote to leave the EU, one way or another London will be fine. Either we go for the full course WTO deal, or despite what everyone’s been saying about a Norway deal being off the table that’s what we do in the end anyway, it doesn’t really matter to the capital in the long term. London is London and it will find a way of pulling through, even if the shock is really bad to the system post-Brexit.
It is places like Clacton that will really feel it. If there is a recession, those are the people who won’t be able to suck it up and say it’s temporary; they are barely making it now. If further funds are taken out of benefits, and there’s not even any EU money around for regeneration projects anymore, places like Clacton have nowhere to turn when it turns out a post-Brexit world has simply made regional inequalities even starker.
In some places around the country, at least C2s will possibly see some upside as Eastern European competition is reduced. For Ds and Es, it’s all bad news if Brexit happens. The fact that those who bothered to vote from these socio-economic groups will probably have voted for Brexit in large numbers will be cruelly ironic.
The most damaging thing to wider society will be the poorer parts of England watching as liberal London, which voted against Brexit, gets richer still, while the rest of the country, who believed all that rubbish about reduced immigration and saving the NHS, watches their standards of living drop further and further. The sense of alienation may become unbearable – at least pre-Brexit, a large group of people had the Brexit fantasy to keep them going. If only we left the EU, everything would be roses. If Brexit happens and things not only don’t get better, but rather they get worse, what happens then in places like Clacton? I genuinely can’t begin to predict. The idea that anti-politics sentiment could possibly get worse in Britain is unimaginable – but very much still possible.