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Author: Peter Wood
  • Activity
  • 10 minutes

Was it right to hold a Referendum on Brexit?

Updated Monday, 3 July 2023
Explore your opinions alongside experts and other learners, to see whether a vote to leave the EU should have taken place.

Find out more about The Open University's Politics courses and qualifications.

Brexit interactive start screen image Click on the image above to launch the interactive Brexit feature.

The referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the EU was a radical event. Only the third UK-wide referendum, more people voted in it than in most general elections, whilst the campaigns cut across the views and membership of established political parties. But the campaigns have also been accused of misleading the public, and of being the wrong way to influence important decisions.

This interactive explores the different opinions of both experts and of other learners. We’ll look at how confident you are in what the EU is, why both Remain and Leave supporters might be unsure about their beliefs, and how different perspectives might link to different understandings of Britain’s history and economy. We’ll also consider how useful the ideas of ‘Metropolitan Liberal Elite’ and ‘the Left Behind’ are for understanding the vote, and whether Brexit signals the start of a new anti-establishment politics.

This interactive does not ask you to say whether you support leaving or remaining in the EU.

Image copyright information

GoogleTrends: "What is the EU?" -

Newspaper Memories of 1973 - photographed by Paul Townsend containing various images including newspaper front pages 

WWII Britain - Copyright: Hulton Deutsch/Corbis Historical via Getty Images 

World map under The British Empire - Boston Public Library under CC BY-SA 2.0

1968 Strabane Northern Ireland, Ulster, border, customs - henrikjon in Flickrr CC BY-SA 2.0

Poll Card EU referendum - Abi Begum under CC BY-SA 2.0

Map of United Kingdom - Copyright: Tomas Griger via Dreamstime 

The Financial Implications of A Brexit - Copyright: Matt Cardy/Stringer via Getty Images 

Brexit Battle bus - Copyright: Jack Taylor/Stringer via Getty Images 

‘Let’s give £350 million a week to our NHS’ poster -

Anti-Brexit Bus Tours The UK - Copyright: Jack Taylor/Stringer via Getty Images

‘Leaving the EU could mean your shopping costs £220 more’ poster- Centre for Economics and Business Research   

‘For every £1 we put into the EU, we get almost £10 back’ photograph of poster Britain Stronger in Europe: Can Pac Swire 

Breaking Point - Copyright: UKIP

Houses on Gold Hill, Shaftesbury, Dorset, England - Copyright: JOHNGOMEZPIX via 

European Union flag in front of Big Ben - Copyright: Vienybe via Dreamstime

Union flag illustration - Adrian Murphy Flickr acediscovery

Burning: Student protests - Parliament Square - Bob Bobin Flickr

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