Youth and the EU referendum: your vote, your future

Young people's votes could swing the EU referendum. Pic: Jeff Djevdet/

Young people’s votes could swing the EU referendum. Pic: Jeff Djevdet/

Welcome to EastLondonLines’ campaign to get London’s young people involved and voting in the EU referendum on June 23.

We at ELL believe all young people in the area should be registered to vote in the EU referendum. Registration closes on June 7.

It is a hugely important issue and research has shown that young people are much more pro-EU than other age groups but much less likely to bother voting.

This means that if young people do not vote, older voters will take the young out of the decision.

Government strategists and pollsters privately admit that the central problem for the Remain side is that its support for staying in the EU is strongest among young people, the group least likely to vote.

The graph below shows the how the support for the Remain campaign reduces as voters get older according to an online survey conducted by Opinium.

Research shows that only 52 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds said they definitely would vote if there were a referendum held tomorrow on whether the UK should remain in the EU or leave the EU compared to 81 per cent of voters aged 55 and over.

Just 21 per cent of 18-24 year-olds said they were “very interested” in the EU referendum according to research by the Electoral Reform Society, compared to 47 per cent of those 65 and over.

“Once-in-a-life-time decision” 

We don’t want to bore you with statistics, statistics and more statistics. But they do have a point. Statistics are showing some worrying figures.

As things stand currently, the outcome of the EU referendum looks to be decided by the group of people it is least likely to impact: people aged 55 and over.

The Electoral Reform Society said this could be a referendum decided by those who will be least affected by this once-in-a-lifetime decision.

EastLondonLines wants YOU, the young people of London, to get out there and vote for whichever side you feel is best for you.

We want to make sure the young people of London make informed decisions about what they are voting for and getting out there and voting on June 23.

Catherine Barnard, Professor of EU law and employment law at the University of Cambridge, said in an article on The Conversation: “No poll – not even a general election – will have such a profound effect on this country’s future as the EU referendum; especially for young people, who will have the longest to live with the consequences.”


“Britain’s students are stronger in Europe”

Megan Dunn is the President of the National Union of Students (NUS) and a board member for the In Campaign.

She said: “Over 200,000 students have studied or worked abroad under the Erasmus education programme since its establishment in 1987. In fact, just shy of 15,000 UK students studied in the EU in 2012 alone – students who were free to study and not struggling having to spend money on expensive visas.

“The EU supports our education sector in Britain and ploughs close to a billion pounds a year into higher education funding and research alone. There are students up and down the country today benefitting directly from the courses and resources that come with this money.

“Most young people I speak to simply do not recognise the picture of Britain painted by those campaigning for us to leave the EU.

“Students in Britain do not fear today’s modern, diverse world. We fear isolation, not internationalism. We do not want to turn the clock back and whilst we recognise the world is a complex place, the answer is to campaign for change together, not quit and walk away. Engaging our allies and winning the argument at hand is essential if we are to safeguard and extend the rights of students and for all in Britain and across Europe.

“The world is becoming a smaller place, especially for young people whose lives are increasingly lived online and global in nature. We make friends in every corner of the world and we campaign for global causes, whether tackling climate change, fighting poverty or giving sanctuary to refugees. We want to break down barriers, not seek them out or rebuild false and pernicious divides. We find security in the knowledge that our country is working with others: as part of the EU we are stronger, not weaker.”

Over the next four weeks ELL will be following how remaining in or leaving the EU will affect young people in London. Click here to find out about how to register to vote as a student, along with much more information about voting in the EU Referendum.

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