EU Referendum: How the vote will differ across the North East

Credit: PA
  • Blog post by our political correspondent Paul Brand:

Unless you're in your 50s, you won't have cast a vote quite like this before. And even if you were around in 1975 for the last referendum on our relationship with Europe, arguably it wasn't quite like this one.

You already know by now that this vote is about the pound in your pocket, about who you want your neighbours to be, and even about who you think you are as a person.

The Remain side will tell you the economic risks are too great, immigration can be limited inside the EU, and that we should be an open, outward-looking nation. Meanwhile, Leave pitch say this as an opportunity to open up new trade links, to take back control of our borders, and to be even more outward looking, by casting our gaze beyond Europe.

As one of my colleagues put it today, both camps have turned their taps on full pelt over the past few months, and now the bath is full. There's not much more to be said or absorbed. Your decision will come down to what you've already heard and read, but also what you feel in your gut.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson with Prime Minister David Cameron, whose friendship has been strained over their difference in opinion to vote leave and remain. Credit: PA

In our region, the result could be close. Some polls suggest it'll be tighter than anywhere else, others favour Leave, with few expecting Remain to come out on top.

But in reality, the vote will probably differ widely across the North East. In Hartlepool and Sunderland, sources on both sides tell me it's looking grim for the Remain camp. In those areas UKIP has strong support, and voters tend to be older and more working class - both groups favour Leave. In Redcar and Middlesbrough, the issue is steel, and again it's Leave who seem to be profiting.

But Remain have high hopes in Newcastle, Gateshead and Durham. These are the more cosmopolitan, youthful parts of our patch, which tend to be more sympathetic to the EU. They are also more aware of the EU funding that has been invested in the our universities.

Nigel Farage at College Street, Newcastle, during his Ukip's referendum bus tour. Credit: PA

Rural Northumberland is more of a mystery. The farmers' union, the NFU, says its members should vote to remain, but Berwick is one of the only parts of our region that has an MP who is actively campaigning to leave. Issues about European subsidies and what happens to our border with Scotland if the result sparks a second Scottish independence referendum are bound to be of influence.

Our region should return the first result - Sunderland - around 12:30am. And the nation will be watching closely. Has the Labour vote held up for Remain? Or have working-class voters opted to leave? Both those issues are key to the national picture.

A final result should come around breakfast time. At the general election our region bucked the national trend. It'll be interesting to see whether we're in tune with the rest of the country on this far more lasting matter.

  • WATCH: We break down the issues that matter most in these clips from our special EU bulletin