Youngsters would swing new Brexit vote for Remain

PUBLISHED: 12:00 17 September 2018

Young people who are now eligable to vote would swing the Brexit vote in favour of Remain
Photo: PA / Daniel Leal-Olivas

Young people who are now eligable to vote would swing the Brexit vote in favour of Remain Photo: PA / Daniel Leal-Olivas

PA Archive/PA Images

A fresh wave of young people turning 18 means that if the Brexit vote was re-run the United Kingdom would remain in the European Union.

A new poll found the cross-over point, when the Leave majority from the 2016 referendum will disappear purely through demographic change, has now moved forward to January 19, 2019 – just two months before the UK’s current departure date from the European Union.

The YouGov poll of 1,645 18 to 24-year-olds, including many who were too young to take part in 2016, found 65% would vote if they were given the chance now.

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Commissioned by the People’s Vote campaign, the survey shows these new members of the electorate, largely aged 18-19, divide by a margin of seven to one – 87% to 13% – for staying in the EU.

Matilda Allan, who turns 18 in December, has set up an organisation called New Generation for a People’s Vote to make sure younger voices that were ignored in the referendum two years ago are heard this time.

She said: “A new generation of voters is changing the Brexit debate. Between the 2016 referendum and the date we’re set to leave the EU, 1.5 million voters will have turned 18 and we’re determined to make our voices heard.

“We keep being told Brexit is the ‘will of the people’ but the ‘people’ have changed. MPs must listen to those now able to vote and give us a People’s Vote on any Brexit deal.”

Peter Kellner, the former president of YouGov who had previously calculated the cross-over point as falling in November next year, says the new polling suggests the Leave majority is now shrinking by 1,350 every day as older voters who overwhelmingly backed Brexit are replaced by younger ones.

He said: “YouGov’s latest figures tell us how those who were not yet 18 last time would vote now. Those who say they are certain to vote divide seven-to-one for Remain.

“This matters statistically: for it helps to explain why demographic factors alone will cause the UK this winter to switch from a Leave country to a Remain country.

“Because this cross-over point occurs before March 29, 2019 – when the UK is due to leave the EU – it means the British public’s view of Brexit will have changed even without anyone who voted two years changing their mind. Young people who were not eligible to vote in 2016 and can do so now make it much harder for anyone to claim that Brexit is still the ‘will of the people’.

“Older voters are just as keen on leaving the EU as they were two years ago, younger voters are moving even more strongly into the Remain camp – and the very youngest voters back continued membership of the EU by a remarkable margin. It is very rare for a significant demographic group to support one side so overwhelmingly on an issue that splits the nation down the middle.

“What is more, young voters are the ones who will still be dealing with the long-term consequences of the current Brexit drama in ten or 20 years’ time, long after many Leave voters have gone. Today’s young voters are making clear that they want a pro-European inheritance – and are ready to stand up and be counted, in a fresh public vote.”

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