Research says Brexit towns will lose out in the leave process

TOWNS that voted for Brexit are most likely to suffer the worst consequences, according to a report.

The report out today by the Carnegie UK Trust is calling for urgent attention to be paid to Britain’s towns after unveiling that the towns who were more likely to vote leave are the areas of the UK that could lose most from the Brexit process, regardless of the outcome of the UK’s departure from the EU in 2019.

Gosport topped The News’ reader area with 63.9 per cent leave, Havant’s voters showed that 62.4 per cent wanted to leave the EU and the majority of the voting population in Portsmouth and Fareham also wanted to leave, with 58.1 per cent and 55.1 per cent respectively.

Lead author of the report, Professor Duncan Maclennan, said: ‘Our research tells us that those who voted to leave during Brexit were more likely to live in towns that have been neglected by policy makers.

‘Brexit is more likely to exacerbate than resolve the difficulties of most UK towns and although it may be too soon to really know what the precise impact of Brexit on towns will be, it’s clear that there needs to be action now to ensure that present neglect ends.

‘Towns therefore need to urgently rethink their economic futures, and this needs to be done whether Brexit is soft, hard or even cancelled.’

Havant voted 62.4 per cent leave but MP Alan Mak believes Brexit will be a success for everyone despite the research.

Mr Mak said: ‘Havant’s economy is strong and growing, and our best days lie ahead.

‘The Government will deliver the referendum result and make a success of Brexit, including for our region.

‘Businesses like FatFace and Monolution are creating new jobs at Dunsbury Park; big names including Next and Marks & Spencer have moved into Solent Road retail park; and our area is a national leader for apprenticeship starts.’

As well as examining the impact that Brexit could have on towns, including the loss of skilled labour for migrant workers, reduction of funding packages for the poorest communities and negative impacts on tourism, the report also has revealed a need for policy makers to identify regional support policies for towns. 

Professor Maclennan added: ‘We believe that a ‘towns deal’ whereby national and devolved governments consider setting up investment vehicles for towns, similar to city region deals, should be considered.

“Brexit is an opportunity to catalyse change that gives towns a new, more central role in public policy.’