The worse your town was hit by austerity, the more likely you were to vote for Brexit

After the Brexit vote, a lot of people pointed out that the areas that voted most heavily in favour of separating from the EU were also the areas that relied most heavily on EU subsidies, and wondered why British voters would decide to slit their own throats.

It turns out that there's an even stronger correlate with Brexit voting: being subjected to years of cruel Tory austerity after the 2008 financial crisis. People whose towns were devastated by this massive wealth-transfer from the poor to the rich were both willing to accept scapegoating of immigrants, and willing to take action that would harm the wealthy (even if it harmed them more).

Did austerity cause Brexit? This paper shows that the rise of popular support for the UK Independence Party (UKIP), as the single most important
correlate of the subsequent Leave vote in the 2016 European Union (EU) referendum, along with broader measures of political dissatisfaction, are strongly
and causally associated with an individual's or an area's exposure to austerity since 2010. In addition to exploiting data from the population of all
electoral contests in the UK since 2000, I leverage detailed individual level
panel data allowing me to exploit within-individual variation in exposure to
specific rules-based welfare reforms as well as broader measures of political
preferences. The results suggest that the EU referendum could have resulted
in a Remain victory had it not been for a range of austerity-induced welfare
reforms. These reforms activated existing economic grievances. Further, aux-
iliary results suggest that the underlying economic grievances have broader
origins than what the current literature on Brexit suggests. Up until 2010,
the UK's welfare state evened out growing income differences across the skill
divide through transfer payments. This pattern markedly stops from 2010
onwards as austerity started to bite

Did Austerity Cause Brexit? [Thiemo Fetzer/University of Warwick Department of Economics]

(via Naked Capitalism)