The two stand-out social factors accounting for the divisions between ‘Brexiters’ and ‘Remainers’ are (a) age, and (b) education. This has been demonstrated over and over again statistically. In short: the older you were, and the less educated, the more likely you were to vote for Brexit. On the other side, young and well-educated people were – and are – far more likely to be ‘Remainers’.
It’s the second of these demographics which poses a problem for us relatively well-educated Remainers. One obvious inference is that Brexiters – and also Tory voters, incidentally – are ‘thick’. But we can’t say or write that, for fear of being calumniated and dismissed as ‘elitist’. That’s a powerful weapon in the hands of the populist Right. As well as that, however, it may not be fair – quite irrespective of whether or not Brexit was, objectively, a stupid choice.
For the fact is that if we consider the ‘stupid’ as a class of people, there are reasons other than their stupidity for how they voted in 2016 and 2019. The following article spells this out: https://unherd.com/2019/12/brexit-has-exposed-our-education-apartheid-2/. Those with lower levels of education have also had a bum deal in other ways over the past decade or so: with regards to employment, for example; pay; prospects for advancement; their perceived position in society; and their self-confidence, or pride, as a class. Their level of education has been one of the main contributors to this situation, but it’s not the reason behind their voting preferences in itself. Education is a social signifier, as well as an intellectual one. That’s as obvious at the ‘bottom’ of the educational scale, as it is at the Old Etonian ‘top’.
Better education for the ‘bottom’, with more status accorded to it, might help correct this. What the solution for the ‘age’ demographic might be, however, I can’t imagine. Something to make us grumpy oldies feel younger, perhaps. Monkey-glands? Face-lifts? Viagra?