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Brexit and the working class on Teesside: Moving beyond reductionism

Telford, L.; Wistow, J.T.

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L. Telford


Too often members of the working class who voted to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum have been framed as uneducated and unaware of their own economic interests. This paper, based on 26 in-depth face-to-face interviews and a further telephone interview on Teesside in the North East of England, offers an alternative perspective that is more nuanced and less reductionist. The paper critiques some of the commonly heard tropes regarding the rationale for voting leave, it then exposes how leave voters rooted their decision in a localized experience of neoliberalism’s slow-motion social dislocation linked to the deindustrialisation of the area and the failure of political parties, particularly the Labour Party, to speak for regional or working-class interests.


Telford, L., & Wistow, J. (2020). Brexit and the working class on Teesside: Moving beyond reductionism. Capital & Class, 44(4), 553-572.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Sep 16, 2019
Publication Date Dec 1, 2020
Deposit Date Jul 30, 2019
Publicly Available Date Sep 17, 2019
Journal Capital and Class
Print ISSN 0309-8168
Electronic ISSN 2041-0980
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 44
Issue 4
Pages 553-572


Published Journal Article (Advance online version) (181 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
Advance online version This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (

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