In his own words, Jon Grant, a 41-year-old Labour Leave voter from Essex, explains why he did vote to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016 and why he now absolutely regrets it.

[This piece was originally written in the format of a Twitter thread and has been minorly edited and corrected.] 

Quite a few people have asked me why I voted to leave the EU. Although I don’t feel like I have to explain myself, there are a couple of things I think people fail to acknowledge about the Brexit vote.

Over 30% of Labour voters voted to leave and about 20% of Green party voters did the same. Not all leave voters are UKIP or even remotely right wing. I am a Labour voter and sit firmly on the left of the political spectrum.

Nobody knew what would happen if we voted to leave the EU. There was so much nonsense, from both sides, that it was virtually impossible to be “well informed” about Brexit.

Right or wrong, here are some of my reasons for voting for Brexit:


I was actually of the opinion that free movement of persons was actually the free movement of cheap labour and that it was driving down wages across Europe. I now actually realise that this is more down to business taking advantage of migrant workers and that my blame was misdirected.

I thought “free movement of persons, like it or not, does add extra strain to public services (try getting an appointment at the quacks).”

It took me a while to realise that this strain has been caused by years of under-funding by successive governments.


After years of disillusionment with politics I liked what Jeremy Corbyn was standing for. He was a well known eurosceptic, so that was good enough for me.

Now I realise even good people can be wrong.

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Once I started to lean towards leaving, I found that I tended to end up reading more and more negative stories about the EU.

Social media are very good at confirming bias without you realising that this is what is happening.


My most embarrassing reason, but I think if Leave voters are honest they may agree: Protest vote. Cameron and Osborne were poisonous to the remain campaign.

After years of austerity and watching the way they treated vulnerable and poor people, I couldn’t bring myself to side with them.


The Brexit vote was a Conservative indulgence and the Tories got nearly all the coverage in the run up to the vote. You could vote with Cameron and Osborne who were forcing austerity onto people, or you could vote with Boris Johnson who seemed like a harmless buffoon. Little did we know.

One more thing. I was absolutely 100% convinced that we wouldn’t leave (even if we won the vote). I thought the European Union would make some concessions and that a deal would be struck to keep us in.🔷

Since there were too many responses to this thread on Twitter to answer individually, I wanted to say that:

  • I appreciate all the comments;

  • I didn’t write this piece for sympathy;

  • I didn’t write it to justify myself;

  • I voted Leave;

  • I wish I hadn’t;

  • I think we should have another vote;

  • I would vote to Remain.

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(This piece was first published as a Twitter thread, then turned into the above article on 19 February 2018 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected.)

(Cover: Dreamstime/Chris Dorney.)