Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, August 17, 2018

A cleavage in the UK

Does age bring wisdom? Or does youth imply knowledge of how the modern world works? Why the opinions don't necessarily translate into policy?

How young and old would vote on Brexit now
Few issues divide opinions between different age groups quite as sharply as Brexit. And it could be that the differences are becoming even more pronounced…

If there were to be a second referendum now, 52% would vote Remain and 48% Leave, an average of polls over the past three months suggests…

So, it is a stable picture, albeit one that reverses the position in 2016.

But the opinions of voters vary dramatically across different groups - none more so than between young and old.

Just over 70% of 18 to 24-year-olds who voted in the referendum backed Remain, four major academic and commercial polls conducted shortly after the ballot agree, with just under 30% backing Leave.

In contrast, only 40% of those aged 65 and over supported Remain, while 60% placed their cross against Leave.

These younger and older voters may be even more polarised now.

A total of 82% of 18 to 24-year-olds with a voting preference say they would vote Remain in a second referendum… while only 18% of this age group say they would vote Leave.

In contrast, two-thirds of those aged 65 and over would back Leave, while only one-third would favour Remain…

As a result, the UK is divided into the under-45s who, on balance, favour staying in the EU, and the over-45s, who want to leave…

Younger people are much keener on the idea of revisiting the Brexit vote.

Asked whether there should be a referendum on whether to accept the terms of Britain's exit from the EU once they have been agreed, about half of 18 to 24 year-olds say they are in favour of another poll.

Only three in 10 of those aged 65 and over hold that view.

However, only half of 18 to 24-year-olds said that they would be certain to vote in a second EU referendum, according to recent polls by Survation. This compares with 84% of those aged 65 and over.

So if there were another ballot, it is far from certain that young people would necessarily take the opportunity to register their distinctive views.

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