Jamie Walker

5 years after the Brexit referendum and the nation is as divided as ever. Here, we dive into one of the key topics of the vote, the openness of UK borders.

This was one of the main debates during the Brexit referendum and still remains a hot topic of conversation. Using petition data we are able to quantify peoples opinions and visualise them to an incredibly granular level. See here for more information on how we calculate attitude scores.

By analysing opinions by geography, we uncover several patterns such as the divide between urban and rural populations and even between nations.

The divide between nations

As shown in the map above, there is a large difference in opinions between countries within the UK. England is most in favour of open borders with an average rank of 49.4, then Northern Ireland with 38.4, Wales with 36.9, and Scotland are the most opposed to open borders with a rank of 35.6.

This may be surprising as 62% of Scotland and 46.6% of England voted remain in 2016. This seems quite puzzling and could be caused by many factors. Perhaps Scotland’s opinion really has swung in the 5 years since the referendum due to increased nationalism or faith in the Brexit deal.

Or this could be a sign that taking control of our borders was not the main reason people voted to leave in the first place, and in fact, they were swayed more heavily by the leave campaigns other promises. If this is the case then perhaps the government should be focussing more on the reasons people voted leave rather then radically changing the state of our borders.

Rural v Urban

The biggest trend is the difference in opinions between rural and urban areas. The average score in cities and large towns is 66 whereas in less built-up areas it’s 40.

This may be down to the higher levels of multicultural areas and immigrants found in cities. It seems reasonable that If you have immigrated to this country you are more likely to support open borders. It may also suggest that increased contact with foreign workers leads to higher support for open borders.

Whatever your opinion on open borders, or Brexit as a whole, it is always important to see the other side of the argument. By analysing trends and understanding the correlations we can start to reach compromises and bridge the divide.

Want to know more about our Attitude Insights?

Gain insight on the UK’s opinion of 39 different topics split across 9 themes.

Get more information on our Health data