Debating Brexit at a Local Level

Duration: March 2018 - April 2019
Supported by: LSE KEI Fund

The economic analyses published on the issue have, so far, largely failed to grasp the attention of the general public… The project aims to overcome these limitations by gathering new qualitative evidence about attitudes to and perceptions of the Brexit impacts at local level.

Mansfield Case Study Film

Debating Brexit impacts at local level: Mansfield case study Debating Brexit impacts at local level: Mansfield case study
This film is part of the research project: "Debating Brexit impacts at local level: a mixed methods comparative study". Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit, LSE. LSE Film and Audio

About the Project

The UK is in a critical juncture with regard to the process of negotiations to leave the European Union. Important discussions are taking place during 2018 which will shape the future relation between Britain and the EU. The economic analysis published on the issue have, so far, largely failed to grasp the attention of the general public. Most of the discussions about Brexit take place in what could be described as elite circles and tend to be London based; there has been very little evidence-based discussion at local levels. Moreover, one of the obstacles to local level evidence based discussions is a distrust of expert evidence.

The project aims to overcome these limitations by gathering new qualitative evidence about attitudes to and perceptions of the Brexit impacts at local level, to contextualise and critically review some of the findings and assumptions of the most prominent economic studies on the impact of Brexit (including those from LSE’s CEP, as well as other studies within and outside LSE). By fostering evidenced based discussions at local level and engaging policy makers in the process of citizens defining their priorities and concerns, we will help citizens achieve better outcomes for their local areas in the Brexit process.

Final Report



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Causes of Discontent and Asymmetric Impacts

This final report in our Understanding Brexit at a Local Level project synthetises the findings from each research area, shedding light on the specific reasons underpinning the referendum result in different local areas, and how Brexit may affect their citizens.

Download the full report here


Local Level Reports

Expand each section below to download


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The London Borough of Barnet Case Study

This report presents evidence collected at a local level in the London Borough of Barnet on the perceived impact of Brexit on public services and local businesses.

Brexit is expected to have a negative impact on different kinds of local businesses in Barnet, particularly in the short term. Restaurants, retail and businesses providing ‘luxury’ services are amongst the most likely to be affected, due to an expected decrease in the amount of income Barnet residents will be able to spend after Brexit.

Download the full report here

Watch our public discussion video here 


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Southampton Case Study

According to local experts and reports, only a ‘short-term slow growth’ is expected after Brexit as Southampton is not heavily dependent on EU funding or exposed to EU markets.

A Brexit opportunity is to develop a skilled workforce able to compete internationally. Of the sectors identified, those that were most promising are transport and dock-related jobs. The area has individual industrial strengths that can offer opportunity under Brexit.

Download the full report here




Pendle Case Study

The primary problems confronting Pendle’s economy are skills shortages and declining investment. These problems are related to the changing economic climate in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

The skills shortage in Pendle appears to be the major economic challenge it faces. This has domestic sources in terms of the inability of Pendle to maintain locally-trained workers, who instead tend to move to Manchester or London, as well as difficulties surrounding the apprenticeship levy. However, some firms continue to rely on European workers.

Download the full report here




Ceredigion Case Study

An exploration of the EU referendum in Ceredigion reveals an interesting interplay of spatial, economic and cultural drivers of the vote. It points to the impact of direct EU funding and participation in the knowledge economy on pro-EU attitudes, and it also raises questions about the future of Welsh identity after Brexit.

As these findings show, Ceredigion’s exposure to Brexit is considerable and both education and agricultural experts identify it as the key risk at the moment. These effects would be economic as well as, perhaps less directly, cultural.

Download the full report here





Mansfield was selected as a case study of a town that has undergone significant industrial restructuring during the last four decades, following the decline of traditional industries such as coal mining and textiles. Mansfield still faces acute challenges in terms of attracting high value-added businesses and increasing the skills and earnings of the local population.

the remarkably high share of the Leave vote in the area cannot be understood without taking into consideration some structural characteristics of the Mansfield economy in the post-coal mining period.

Download the full report here

Watch our public discussion here


Mansfield Brexit discussion panel Mansfield Brexit discussion panel


Brexit Research Team


Dr Jose Olivas-Osuna

Dr Jose Javier Olivas Osuna coordinated the project ‘Debating Brexit impact at local level: a mixed methods comparative study’. He currently leads an interdisciplinary comparative project on populism and secessionism at the National Distance Education University (UNED) in Madrid. He co-founded the interdisciplinary research group and academic blog Euro Crisis in the Press at LSE. Jose Javier holds a PhD in Government and an MSc in Public Policy and Administration, both from LSE. He previously completed University degrees in Economics and Business (ETEA), Market Research (ETEA) and European Studies (EDHEC). Jose Javier has carried out public policy consulting work for the European Commission, European Court of Auditors and Committee of the Regions.


Alexandra Bulat

Alexandra is an ESRC-funded PhD Candidate at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) at University College London (UCL). Her doctoral research focuses on how attitudes towards EU migration are shaped in the UK, based on qualitative fieldwork with British, Romanian and Polish participants living in two local authority areas – Tendring (Essex) and Newham (London).


Diane Bolet

Diane is an ESRC-funded PhD Candidate in the European Institute at LSE; researching local factors behind voting behaviour and on far-right votes in particular. She investigates the effects of local immigration, voluntary associations and social networks on far-right electoral support in Europe. Her research interests include electoral sociology, electoral geography, euroscepticism and quantitative methods.


Josh De Lyon

Josh is a researcher in the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE, and is currently studying for a DPhil in Economics at Oxford University. He works in the fields of international trade and labour economics. He is currently involved in research into the economics of Brexit, including with the independent think tank The UK in a Changing Europe.

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Kira Gartzou-Katsouyanni 

Kira is a PhD Candidate in the European Institute at LSE. Her doctoral research focuses on the political economy of local development in Southern Europe. She is also a co-author of “The Greco-German Affair in the Euro Crisis: Mutual Recognition Lost?” (Palgrave Pivot, 2018).


Kuba Jablonowski

Kuba is a PhD Candidate in Geography at the University of Exeter. His doctoral project explores transnational political agency of European migrant citizens through a study of community, labour, and political activism in England. His research interests are focussed on migration, citizenship, global change, and spatial justice.


Max Kiefel

Max is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Government at LSE. He is interested in left-wing politics in the gig economy. His research focuses on how the Labour party mobilises supporters across different classes and places.