The BBC has revealed that Market Ward in central Cambridge delivered the highest Remain vote in the country in June’s referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.
The ward, which contains Corpus Christi, Christ’s, Emmanuel, Downing, Peterhouse, Pembroke, Jesus, and Sidney Sussex colleges, delivered an 87.8 per cent vote for the Remain side.
Every other ward in Cambridge also voted to Remain. The largest Remain vote after Market was in Castle Ward, at 81.2 per cent, while the lowest was in King’s Hedges, at 54.8 per cent.
Cambridge as a whole returned a 73.8 per cent Remain vote, making it one of the strongest Remain-voting cities in the UK, narrowly ahead of Oxford at 70 per cent.
Speaking about the findings, Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, said: “I am very proud that Market Ward here in Cambridge turned out to be the most pro-EU in the country. I was deeply saddened that the result was not replicated across the country but at the same time we saw strong results across the city.
“Every part of Cambridge voted Remain, but in some the result was much closer, and it is important to understand why, even in Cambridge, so many people voted against our membership of the European Union.”
Zeichner has had to negotiate between Cambridge’s firm vote to remain and his party’s increasingly strict policy in favour of Brexit. In Parliament he voted against the triggering of Article 50, which would set in motion the process of leaving the EU, and told Varsity that he intends to continue doing so: “I have argued consistently against leaving the European Union and will continue to vote against leaving.”
Dr Julian Huppert, former MP and Lib Dem candidate for the next general election, told Varsity: “It’s wonderful to see that every single ward in Cambridge voted to stay, and in particular that the City Centre had the highest vote to remain in the entire country.
“The people of Cambridge are well aware of the disastrous effects that Brexit could have, and this is just a reminder of why we have to keep fighting to protect their interests, and those of so many across the country.
“Despite the clear response from Cambridge, we must accept that there are people, particularly older people, who did not feel the same way. There are people who felt left behind by the way society was going, and wanted to kick the establishment. We must ensure that there is enough economic development across the country, support for our NHS, housebuilding and everything else that is needed to ensure people do feel the benefits. Sadly, the increasingly apparent harm that will come from Brexit will simply hit those worst off the hardest.”
Breaking down the Remain result
It came as no surprise that Cambridge was among the most Remain-supporting cities in the UK at the time of the referendum on EU membership last year, delivering 73.8 per cent for the pro-EU side.
And Market Ward, which contains a number of colleges, could have been expected to deliver a huge result for Remain.
But Cambridge’s Remain vote cannot necessarily be credited to, or blamed on, depending on one’s perspective, its student population. Most students would have been leaving the city at the time of the referendum. In fact, Cambridge’s year-round demographics are what make it such a Remain stronghold.
“Three of the four strongest Remain-voting wards contain Cambridge colleges”
The most likely demographics to vote Leave were older voters and voters without degrees, which between them accounted for some 80 per cent of variation between the results in different wards, according to the BBC. Younger and university-educated voters inclined towards Remain.
In 2011, the national census found that 25.4 per cent of the ‘usual population’ of Cambridge was between the ages of 20 and 29. Across England and Wales, that age group makes up 13.6 per cent of the population.
Meanwhile, the proportion of Cambridge’s population above the age of 50 was, at 25 per cent, substantially lower than the average for England and Wales, 34.6 per cent.
As for education, just 7.1 per cent of Cambridge residents aged 16 to 64 have no qualifications, the fourth-lowest figure in the country, while 47.3 per cent have qualifications above A Level. In England and Wales, 22.7 per cent have no qualifications and 27 per cent have qualifications above A Level. In other words, Cambridge does not exactly have the profile of a Leave city.
However, even if Cambridge was always likely to vote Remain, nonetheless students do seem to have made a difference. Three of the four strongest Remain-voting wards, Market, Castle, and Newnham – all of which returned over 80 per cent of their vote for the Remain side – contain Cambridge colleges, while the fourth, Petersfield, contains Anglia Ruskin University.
Much starker than the divergence within Cambridge is the rift that exists between the city and the rest of the county. Peterborough, which is now joined to Cambridge by a common mayoralty, voted to leave by 60.9 per cent
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