How did the UK end up in the confusing mess that is Brexit and who decided that they should take this road? On January 9, The British newspaper The Independent claimed in their article Brexit: Don’t settle for ‘isolation’, EU president tells Britain’s youth covering EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen’s visit to London that it certainly was not the youth.
‘’Poll suggest wide majorities in favour of EU membership among younger and working-age demographics, with Brexit only carried over the line by the retired.’’, the paper wrote without referencing directly what exactly this poll shows or where the poll was from or who made it. After fact checking this claim, it is clear that it is in fact true that the younger voters favour EU membership whilst the older generation does not.
Several polls back claim
When asked by EUfactcheck, journalist Jon Stone, who is the author of the piece, pointed in the direction of an article by the BBC from August 2018. The article, which is written by Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, states that just over 70 per cent of the 18 to 24 year-olds who voted in the referendum in 2016 backed remain according to ‘’four major academic and commercial polls conducted shortly after the ballot agree’’. On the other hand, only 40 per cent of those aged 65 or more voted remain.
At the time the BBC article was published, the polarisation was even bigger. According to the average of four polls by Survation, 82% of the 18 to 24 year-olds with a voting preference would vote remain in a second referendum whilst only around 33% of the 65+ group would back remain.
A YouGov poll from June 2016, with a sample size of 5455 UK adults, backs these figures. The poll shows that 71% of the votes from people under 25 were in favour of remaining, whilst only 36% of the 65+ group voted to remain.
It is not surprising that The Independent made a pro-EU claim such as this one when considering their general coverage of Brexit. An analysis by Loughborough University published on 14 June 2016 of 1127 ‘’media cuttings’’ since the day of the EU membership referendum in 2016 show that the articles regarding Brexit published by The Independent tended to be supportive of remaining in the EU.
The newspaper was in this period one of the most ‘’balanced’’ and ‘’neutral’’ newspapers in the United Kingdom, but the analysis also showed that The Independent was one of five papers to back remain.
So to conclude, it was true when Independent claims that the younger part of the demographic in the UK are in favour of EU membership.
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RESEARCH | ARTICLE | GRAPHICS © Jonas Bisgaard Kristensen, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, NL