The success of the out campaign was its seeming ability to attract voters from all walks of life, to suggest otherwise is disingenuous says John Redwood MP. 

Much of the commentary about the EU referendum has been designed to maximise antagonisms in our society. We are told that the young, the better off and the better educated voted to remain, whilst the opposite of the above voted to leave. This is an unhelpful caricature of the voting patterns.  This was no simple case of the have nots defeating the have yachts.

On the Leave side were a number of rich and very successful entrepreneurs, and a number of important businesses. Business was split, though it is true more of the large companies run by the international executive class were for remain.  Whilst it is also true that university cities like Cambridge, Oxford and central London were more for Remain, there were other university centres that were for Leave.  More graduates overall may have been for Remain, but there were plenty of well-educated and thoughtful people voting for Leave. One of the features of the campaign was just how many long, detailed and academic papers I received from all over the country from people in business, in academic life and outside arguing for the Leave case.  No campaign could win with just Have nots, and get 52 per cent of the vote.

Nor was it a simple case of the economic argument against the immigration argument as various spin doctors and pundits kept telling us. It was true that the large Remain vote contained many people with genuine worries about what might happen next. They had fears about interruptions or damage to laws, spending programmes, jobs and economic activity. Few of the Remain advocates wanted full membership of the EU, as they did not wish to join the Euro, the common borders and the common army.

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It is now vital that all work together to ensure the minimum of damage and the maximum of improvement and potential from the changes the nation wants to make. The government should reassure markets, companies and others that sensible arrangements will be put in place so our prosperity is not reduced and the prospects of those on low incomes or out of work are improved. Most Brexit advocates have no wish to scrap good employment laws, no ambition to stop funding universities and farmers, no plans to impose barriers on our trade. All EU citizens here are welcome to stay for as long as they wish.

It was not true that most Leave voters just wanted to control immigration. Yes, the idea of a points based system of migration control which would allow lower overall numbers was popular with many. Vote Leave did not put any numbers on what the new system can achieve or make promises on numbers, as that will be for the government to determine and to put to Parliament once we are free to have our own policy. The government itself has put numbers on what it wants to do, but has been unable to achieve it with current policies.

Most Leave voters I spoke to were principally concerned about taking back control. They liked the central slogan of Vote Leave. The understood that when the UK is again a self-governing country it will not be all powerful, and will still have its problems. The difference will be that the electorate can lobby known individuals in Parliament for change, or can change the Parliament if it fails to do their bidding.

Wanting to preserve our current arrangements with the EU, including opt outs, was popular with some on low incomes as well as with the rich, some well-educated and some unqualified. Wanting to go forward as a self-governing country was also popular with many and varied people. It is now time to concentrate on what binds us as a nation. The new language of class hatred on either side is not helpful. Remain leaders should not scorn those who voted against them. You do not need a degree to cast a sensible vote. Leave should not attack people for being successful who happen to disagree with Brexit.

This article has been republished with the kind permission of John Redwood MP. This and other articles are available from his blog

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