EU referendum: England's most pro and anti-EU boroughs

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media captionEU referendum: A tale of two votes

The vote in England exposed huge differences in the level of support for the Remain and Leave campaigns in London and the rest of the country.

Boston in south Lincolnshire recorded the highest leave vote in the UK, with 75.6% backing Brexit.

The borough of Lambeth in south London saw almost the reverse result, with 78.6% of voters supporting Remain.

The BBC visited the two boroughs at polar opposites of the European Union referendum.

image captionIn Boston, 7,430 (24.4%) voted to remain, while 22,974 (75.6%) voted to leave the EU

At the scene in Boston: David Sykes, BBC News

The vote comes against the backdrop of local concerns over the number of migrant workers in the town, and the increased pressure on local services.

Many are from Eastern Europe, attracted by work in the agricultural industry.

Among those obviously pleased with the result was a street sweeper driving his vehicle past a group of UKIP councillors at 6am, and giving a smile which was accompanied by a thumbs-up sign.

It was a sentiment shared by many voters in one of the UK's most extreme examples of a town affected by recent EU immigration.

The only other people in the town's market square were small groups of people waiting for a lift to work. Every one of them hailed from Eastern Europe, and this is a common sight in this town.

Yvetta from Lithuania spoke to reporters as she waited for her bus to work.

She said: "What happened, happened", while her friend, Martinez questioned what the government would do with people, like him, who come from other countries.

He added: "I hope it will be all right, but we don't know. Now we are waiting."

Other foreign visitors offered a different perspective on the result.

image captionA French TV crew in the town told reporters some countries, including France, could benefit from Britain's exit

Fredrick Meon from French TV station ARTE, which was filming in Boston, said: "In France, reaction is a bit polarised, divided but basically happy that the British will leave. Economically, I think Britain will suffer for the next few years... some countries of the EU will see some benefits of this and I think France could be one of them."

Recent surges in migration to Boston mean that an estimated 14% of people in the area were born in other EU countries, and that may be a reason why some of the more than three-quarters of people here voted Leave.

image copyrightAFP
image captionShops in Boston reflect the cosmopolitan nature of the residents


  • Population 64,600
  • The last census in 2011 showed the population increased by 15.9% between 2001 and 2011 - twice the national rate
  • Boston experienced the largest increases in its population in the age bands representing people in their 20s.
  • Top occupations listed by people in Boston are elementary (19%), process plant and machine operatives (17%), skilled trades 13% and professional 10%

Steve, making his way through Boston town centre on his way to work, said he was concerned by the outcome of the vote.

"I really don't know if it is the right thing," he said.

"I'm worried for my job. I work for a small business you don't know what effect it is going to have on that."

But, another Steve, who like so many others, voted to leave, said he was tired of the EU telling the UK to jump and David Cameron saying, 'how high?'

The 2011 census showed that the district had the largest number of non-British EU passport holders outside of London.

Figures showed 12.1% of Boston residents held such passports, compared with the Lincolnshire average of 3.5%.

image captionPolish chaplain Father Stanislow Kowalski said he was shocked by the result, warning that some Eastern European workers might return home, or to other parts of Europe

Protests have been held in the town about the level of overseas workers, despite the local unemployment rate being below the national average, at 4.4%, as against 5.2% nationally.

The town's Conservative MPs Matt Warman, who supported Remain, said: "We've got to respect the fact that if people want to take that gamble then we have to get the best deal for the country... ultimately what is in everyone's interest is a stable economy in a time of transition."

However, for those expecting things to happen immediately, they might be disappointed - this new dawn, in true European style, is likely to take some time.

At the scene in Brixton, Lambeth: Clark Ainsworth, BBC News

On the streets of Brixton there was sadness, disappointment, anger and even calls for London to secede from the UK, following the vote to leave Europe.

Finding anyone who backed Brexit in an area where four out of five people supported the Remain campaign was almost impossible.

Many shoppers, stallholders and residents in this ethnically diverse, but increasingly gentrified area of south London, expressed frustration that despite overwhelmingly voting to stay in the European Union, immigration concerns elsewhere in the UK meant they would be removed from the EU.

image captionMohammed Baez was saddened by the result and believes prices will rise for European products

Mohammed Baez, a manager at Brixton Foodland, fears trade tariffs will be introduced and prices will go up.

"I feel very sad we are out because I prefer we stay in together.

"We get many products from Europe and it does effect when things go up because we don't sell as much.

Mr Baez, who has lived in the UK for about 17 years, added: "I believe because this thing happened that recession will start again.

"People will lose their jobs because when the taxes come things will become more expensive and it will affect the business.

"Many people from the North have voted about immigration. But the people who separate, what is the answer for them? I haven't heard any good answers saying: 'This is what we are going to do'."


  • Nearly 310,000 people live in Lambeth, one of the most densely populated places in the country with over 100 people living in each hectare
  • Complex social and ethnic mix, with large African and Portuguese populations
  • Relatively young age profile
  • Destination for young working-age people rather than families
image captionHelen Palmer says the future of the country has been decided by "older generations"

Helen Palmer, of Herne Hill, became visibly emotional when she described why she believed Brexit was bad for the future of her family and the country.

"I felt very angry when I looked at the voting demographics and saw that it was older generations who were voting and really choosing a future for the country that the younger generations did not choose.

"Everyone we know in this borough believes passionately in integration and working with others.

"I'm standing in Brixton Market feeling quite emotional because it's a hugely vibrant, cosmopolitan, mixed-up melting pot of cultures.

"We feel the same about Europe: no matter what are the faults of the European Union we have to be inside and have to co-operate and collaborate with our fellow Europeans."

image captionVernon Ray moved to London in 1959 from Jamaica

Vernon Ray first came to Lambeth from Jamaica in 1959 to work for London Transport.

He says the referendum result is the "worst thing that could happen in the history of Britain".

"Now everything is going to be way over the top. We're going to have to pay back through the nose.

"It's very upsetting.

"Lambeth became cosmopolitan and that is one of the reasons [it voted to remain].

"The issue is immigration, and this why they [the UK] opted out but in three or four months' time they will realise the mistake they've made."

image captionRebecca Manners (left) and Olivia Snowball are concerned about the impact of Brexit on London

Midwives Olivia Snowball and Rebecca Manners were concerned about the impact of the vote on London.

"I'm really gutted that we've left," said Ms Snowball.

"Having spoken to all of my friends and seeing what my friends on Facebook and Twitter were saying, it just seemed to be overwhelmingly that we would stay but obviously that's not what everyone else thought."

Ms Manners said: "Absolutely gutted that we voted out.

"I think there's definitely going to be a drop in the housing market throughout London, which some people will say is a positive thing.

"But I think that the immediate effects will be quite negative and again, especially within the NHS, I think we are going to see big changes throughout there as well."

image captionItalian Camilla Cabasso was not eligible to vote in the European referendum

Italian Camilla Cabasso expects Britain to experience an immediate and a long-term change for the worse.

She was not eligible to vote, but when I asked her what she thought of the referendum result she shrugged her shoulders and sighed.

"It's not so positive for people that come from other parts of Europe."

She believes the UK could become "more about control" because it would now not work together with other European countries.

Another Italian, who works at a sourdough pizza restaurant, said the result made her feel as though "the UK doesn't want me to stay here".

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