THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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A message to our European neighbours

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EU referendum: Who in Britain wants to leave, and who wants to remain?

I tire of the Remain campaign's "it's their future" meme, which suggests that older people should vote according to the majority pro-EU views of the young. It's insulting to older voters who know they would live through the short-term disruption that uncertainty in the wake of Brexit would bring, but may not get to see the longer term benefits they anticipate. Many believe they are voting Leave precisely to protect their family's future. It's also silly to assume that the younger voters are more likely to be right. It would be no more unreasonable or rude to say that  "support for the EU varies inversely with life experience". 

As the linked article reports, there is a difference in voting intentions according to age:

There is a huge gulf among young and older voters over the European issue - with seven in 10 young voters backing the European Union.  73 per cent of those aged between 18-29 want to remain in the EU, while 63 per cent of those aged over 60 want to leave.  The middle-aged population are divided almost evenly on the issue. 

The real mistake is to assume that these views will remain constant as the current electorate ages. My first act as a voter was in 1975, when I voted to remain in the Common Market. I was 18 and had read little about it. I believed the assurances of Heath and Wilson that no loss of sovereignty was involved. I had never heard of "ever closer union" and was essentially in favour of the promised removal of barriers to free trade. As I studied European Law and learned about the Common Market's institutions at University, I became more sceptical. Once qualified and out in the workplace I became even more so. By the age of 30 I was seriously doubtful of the Union's value. I then went to work in Europe and had my first encounters with Continental Civil Law and the very different political and administrative mindset of those brought up under it. By the age of 40 I was outright hostile.

I am not saying that everyone under 30 who is going to vote Remain will change his or her mind as I did. Some will, some won't. But it's absurd to assume that they will all remain constant in their views. If we Remain, many may regret they voted against their elders. If we Leave, many who are disappointed on June 24 may come to bless theirs.  Future new voters may, if we Remain, turn out to be more anti-EU on the basis of yet more experience of its incompetence, corruption, inability to get its dodgy accounts signed off by the auditors and anti-democratic tendencies! Maybe young EU enthusiasts should think of the interests of voters as yet unborn?

I have even heard it suggested by a young person working for the Remain campaign that "old people should only have half a vote in this referendum". Surely no-one should allow zealotry for either side of this debate to blind them to such a fundamental principle as equality before the law? We are all going to have to live together after June 23rd. Surely it's not too hard to assume our opponents will be voting sincerely with a misguided view of all our best interests in mind?


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Re the half-vote suggestion, we shouldn't really be surprised that some supporters of Remain are happy to ignore democratic norms, should we?

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