A study of the UK’s 650 constituencies found that those with a high proportion of fish and chip shops were more likely to have voted to leave the EU in 2016 than those where Indian or Italian restaurants are more popular.
Dr Steve Pickering, a political scientist at Brunel University London, used Yell.com, to discover which cuisine ruled the local restaurant market in each of the UK’s postal code areas, with six making up the lion’s share – fast food, fish and chips, Indian, gastro-pubs, Italian, and ‘traditional’ restaurants.
When plotted on a map, six dominant restaurant types appeared in clear regional clusters, with fish and chips being most popular across the north of England and around coastal areas, whilst Indian cuisine is most popular along a balti-belt running from the South-East up into the Midlands.
Dr Pickering’s theory is that a large proportion of fish and chip shops in a constituency is an indicator that the area has a low level of diversity, and that areas where diversity is low show a greater support for Brexit.
He comments: “The proportion of fish and chip shops isn’t quite as robust as some other variables, such as the percentage of constituents who have a university degree. Nevertheless, the relationship is there and should not be discounted,” said Dr Pickering.
“As for why this is the case, that’s harder to determine. Clearly there’s nothing in battered fish that would make people more Leave orientated. But perhaps the dominance of fish and chip shops in a constituency is in some ways an indicator of that constituency’s diversity or cosmopolitanism.”