The working-class voters of Wales have defied the mostly-Labour political elite which has run Wales for so long and has disobediently voted to leave the European Union.
With all votes in, the result for Wales was:-
- Leave 854,572 (52.5%)
- Remain 772,347 (47.5%) .
Turnout was 71 .7%
The Vale of Glamorgan – which has a strong concentration of commuting state-sector/ NHS / education staff and civil servants, all of whom are dependent on state-funded jobs, voted to “Remain” but only by a majority 1,053. The result for the Vale was :-
- Remain 36,681
- Leave 35,628
Gwynedd, Cardiff, Ceredigion and Monmouthshire also voted “Remain” but the 22 other electoral areas of Wales comprehensively voted to “Leave” .
Penarth Conservative AM Andrew R T Davies who is leader of the Welsh Conservatives – and who defied Prime Minister David Cameron to support the “Leave” campaign – said it was a “historic moment for Wales” and represented what he called “the end of the Labour diktat ” in the nation .
Davies paid tribute to the Prime Minister saying “Whilst I am personally disappointed that he has taken the decision to stand down, he can be proud of his many achievements as Prime Minister; not least in having delivered this opportunity for the public to have its say on such a huge constitutional issue.”
Davies said “The democratic will of the United Kingdom has been served today, and it is clear that the political landscape here in Wales and the UK has been changed permanently, and beyond recognition. Clearly the leaders of political parties here in Wales will need to reflect to what extent they can be said to be representing Welsh public opinion on this matter.”
The referendum result was another emotional upset for Labour’s “First Minister” for Wales, Carwyn Jones, as the “Leave” campaign came first in his home territory of Bridgend – where voters ignored his pleas to remain within the European Union.
Carwyn Jones had said three days ago that if the UK voted “Leave” he would arrange to hold separate talks with the EU. Opponents said his statement clearly showed that it had never entered the Labour First Minister’s head that most Welsh voters were totally opposed to the EU and wanted out – and that it was Carwyn Jones himself who was out of step with public opinion in Wales.
Likewise Plaid Cymru’s Leader Leanne Wood found voters in her home territory of Rhondda Cynon Taff weren’t following her leadership . To her consternation and discomfiture, Rhondda Cynon Taff people voted to “Leave”.
Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas said he was extremely disappointed. “I think it’s an absolute disaster from the point of view of building the Welsh economy over the next five to ten years”. He said “This is very dangerous and disturbing territory that we’re entering into.”
The Labour Assembly Member for Cardiff South and Penarth – Welsh Health Secretary Vaughan Gething – seemed puzzled and surprised at what had happened .
He said there was a “mistrust” in politicians and “an anti-politics feeling”. He said “We need to understand that, listen and act”.
Also shown to be out of touch with public opinion was Stephen Doughty the Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth . He said “I respect the result to leave the EU” but then criticised British voters for holding the wrong sort of ideas – saying “I fear for our divided country and what this may say about us beyond views on a mere institution“. He said he was “proud” that Cardiff and the Vale had – as he put it – taken “a different view”.
Labour AM Baroness Morgan also had an uncompromising message for disloyal voters. She said “That crash in the market you hear is also the crashing of your pensions. This will impact on everyone.”
Neil Hamilton, UKIP assembly group leader, said: “I am absolutely delighted and I have to admit even a little surprised myself, as I hardly dared believe we could achieve this.”
Lord Hain said what he called “Left Behind Alienation” in Labour areas had accounted for the defeat . He said “The strong Leave vote demonstrates the serious extent of left-behind alienation in Labour areas, at Wales’ economic and social prospects and deep antagonism to the UK Tory government which invited a kicking in this referendum and are being given it.”
Political commentator Daran Hill was quoted as saying : “Wales’ decision to Leave comes down to a failure of Labour and the Labour-inclined Stronger In campaign to connect with, motivate and mobilise their voters. The Welsh voters have done what they haven’t done since 1979 – they have rejected the establishment. We’ve seen a very surprising pattern. We’ve seen working class Labour voters go fairly solidly “Vote Leave”, far more strongly than we were expecting.”
In some political circles however there is a recognition that there’s now a need to bring Leave and Remain voters together after a bruising and acrimonious campaign .
Conservative Leader Andrew R T Davies said “We must also recognise, however, that there is a significant proportion of the population that didn’t vote to leave the EU and who will not be sharing our optimism today, and we must move forward together as a United Kingdom. I will always act in what I perceive to be the best interest of Welsh communities, and it is my sincere belief that today’s vote is a great opportunity for Wales to benefit economically, socially and culturally.”