Even in Leave seats, a majority of Labour voters backed Remain. The British Election Study found no marked difference between 2015 Labour voters generally (63 per cent backed Remain a year later) and in the north (57 per cent) or midlands (60 per cent). Rob Ford, a professor of politics at Manchester University, warns that Labour could alienate Remainers by wooing Leavers, who might not be won over because the party supports a customs union.
He points out that Brexit is not the only issue motivating voters. “If it was, then May would have won a lot more Leave-voting Labour seats in June 2017,” he said. Several Labour MPs representing Leave constituencies in the north reject its caricature as “Brexitland”, insisting opinion has shifted and that the regions now support a referendum.