Cambridge confused by rest of the country as Brexit begins
73.8% of the city voted in vain to remain – “intolerable damage” for the University here we come
Despite the confidence of the markets in a Remain Vote, the Pound is now plunging as Britain officially voted to leave the European Union at 6.00am this morning.
By one of the largest margins in the country, 73.8 per cent of Cambridge voters plumped for Remain. In the city, 42,682 people voted to remain, while 15,117 voted for a Brexit.
The national total for the Leave Vote, however, inched ever ahead over the course of the night, ending up crossing the line to win with 17,410,742 votes (52 per cent) to Remain’s 16,141,241 (48 per cent).
Alice Evans, a lecturer in the Geography faculty, summed up the feelings of many staff at the University, calling Cambridge a “little, privileged island in a sea of despair.”
73.8% for Remain was a plea from Cambridge to the rest of the UK, to listen to the positive case for Europe. This plea was ignored.
— Cambridge for Europe #FBPE (@CamForEurope) June 24, 2016
Cambridge only beaten by Gibraltor on the BBC remain-ometer … Most remain area in mainland UK
— Cambridge for Europe #FBPE (@CamForEurope) June 23, 2016
Once all results were in, Cambridge was the most pro-Remain area in England outside London
Of the 45 Eastern region of England results, only five – Cambridge, South Cambs, North Herts, Norwich and St Albans – voted to remain a member of the EU. Even East Cambridgeshire voted Leave – 24,487 voting that way – though only by a margin of 1,000 votes.
The view of high-ranking members of the university was quite clearly pro-Remain in the run-up to the referendum, particularly with regards to science.
“If the UK leaves the EU and there is a loss of freedom of movement of scientists between the UK and Europe it will be a disaster for UK science and universities”, Caius’ Master, Professor Sir Alan Fersht, wrote in The Times.
Professor Ross Anderson, an elected member of the University’s governing council, has predicted that in the case of the Leave campaign proving triumphant, leaving the EU would cost Cambridge an eye-watering £100 million a year.
He warned of “intolerable damage”.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz has previously said “in the event of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, we will have squandered the good will of all our neighbours.”
Cambridge’s divergence, alongside London and Scotland, from the rest of the electorate had been noted by numerous forecasters in the build-up period. 28 of London’s local authorities voted to Remain, while 5 voted to Leave.
The Economist pointed to a “great educational divide”, and, according to polls by YouGov, those educated only to 16 opposed EU membership by 57% to 43%, but among graduates it is 38% to 62%.
Speaking about the city’s result, Cambridge’s MP Daniel Zeichner said: “It’s been one of the strongest remain votes in the country which comes as no surprise to me.
“As we are seeing the votes come out, many people in Cambridge will be amazed to see the different votes in other parts of the country both in Labour an Conservative areas, which seem to be rejecting the advice of their traditional parties.
“I think the consequences will be met with dismay by many in Cambridge. I’m deeply deeply dismayed by some of the results I’m seeing. We all have to think through what the message is that people are sending.
“My suspicion is it’s not about Europe. What we have been hearing is that lots of people are very unhappy with things just as much to do with the current government in Westminster as they are in Europe. But this was an opportunity to express that dismay and people have taken it.”
He said that if Britain leaves, “not just across the country but across the whole of Europe we will feel a chill. It will make Britain a more dangerous place – certainly poorer and certainly more vulnerable – and the saddest thing for me is that the most vulnerable people will be most at risk.”