Skip to content


Brexit crumpled the Red Wall, says Sir John Curtice to North East business leaders

Business leaders from across the region heard from political scientist, Sir John Curtice today (February 13) at the North East England Chamber of Commerce’s President Club lunch.

Sir John gave a detailed analysis of how changes in voter behaviour and social attitudes led to the historic election result in December last year, when Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party won a majority of 80 – their best return since 1987.

The general election amounted to something of a redrawing of the political map in Britain, with many seats in the so-called Red Wall turning blue for the first time.

Sir John put this largely down to the Brexit issue, which created the conditions for a surge in support for the Conservatives and a collapse for the Labour Party, which has traditionally performed very well in the North East.

“Boris backed leave and leave backed Boris”, said Sir John to an audience of Chamber President’s Club members.

The event was introduced by Chamber President Lesley Moody and was sponsored by Newcastle College Group (NCG), whose chief executive, Liz Bromley, introduced the afternoon’s proceedings.

Liz shared NCG’s mission for the decade ahead and highlighted the importance of enterprise, engagement and employability for the next generation of business leaders.

She said: “Our vision is to enable social mobility and economic prosperity through further education.”

Drawing on a diverse data set, which demonstrated changes in voting patterns over the course of the 2015, 2017 and 2019 elections, Sir John highlighted the centrality of the Brexit issue to the recent election result.

He said that in 2017, Leave supporters voted Conservative and Remain supporters voted Labour but that in 2019, Remain supporters deserted Labour whereas Leave supporters stuck with the Conservatives.

He added: “The 2019 election is not just a story of a collapse of the Red Wall but of a Blue Tide rinsing parts of the country that had previously resisted, through antipathy, voting for the Conservative Party.”

The Chamber President’s Club series is sponsored by Learning Curve Group, a training specialist which works with further education providers to help them achieve success.