Exclusive: youth vote would not stop Brexit
Our survey of UK students carried out over the past 72 hours suggests that young people voting for the first time in a second poll would fail to tip the balance in a second referendum.
A second referendum on leaving the European Union (EU). Theresa May has ruled it out. Jeremy Corbyn is under increasing pressure to support it.
What would the result be with the addition of 1.75 million “Brexit inbetweeners” who have gained the right to vote since June 2016 and the subtraction of 1.2 million who have died?
How to find out? We decided to ask you since you probably represent the views of the “inbetweeners”.
Some 1,029 people took part in our survey. Out of a total of 837,791, the results are likely to be 95% representative with a 3% margin of error.
Warning: we are very clear that this is not a professionally conducted poll but more of an interesting exercise in taking the temperature.
The message of the survey: in a second referendum, 73.1% would vote to remain in the EU, while 26.9% would vote to leave.
So would this change the outcome of the referendum? The answer is no.
In September, a YouGov survey found 65% of under-25s would be “absolutely certain” to vote in a second referendum. If 73.1% of “Brexit inbetweeners” voted Remain on a 65% turnout, this would translate to 831,513 new “Remain” votes and 305,987 for “Leave”.
Factoring in the estimated 800,000 Leave voters and 400,000 Remain voters who have died since the referendum, this means that Leave would still win by just under 344,000 votes if a vote were held tomorrow.
This is a much smaller margin than in June 2016, when Leave won by 1.3 million.
According to ex-YouGov chief Peter Kellner, “crossover day”, the day when Leave’s majority would be eliminated by young voters, was last Saturday. However, the poll he used said that only 13% of new voters would favour leave — less than half of the number suggested by our results.
Both Kellner’s and The Day’s figures are based on the assumption that no one who voted in the 2016 referendum would change their minds. In fact, as Kellner points out, a higher youth turnout than last time could further boost the Remain vote.
“The true ‘will of the people’ looks considerably more questionable if it turns out to be the will of dead people,” wrote The Guardian’s Polly Toynbee.
Our survey may be no more than informed guesswork. But it does raise some serious questions. If 1.75 million new voters could now take part and 1.2 million who did vote have now died, does this not add to the moral argument for a second referendum? How long should a referendum vote be valid for? Ten years? Five? One?
What is more, shouldn’t young votes count more? This decision is unique in that it is likely to change the course of Britain for at least 100 years. Does the “wisdom” of the old outweigh the fact that they will not have to live with the consequences of the result?
- Do you think Leave or Remain would win a second referendum?
- Should 16 and 17-year-olds have the right to vote?
- As a class, hold your own poll on the question: “How would you vote in a second referendum?” Work out what percentage of the class support Leave or Remain. Are your results similar to ours, or different?
- Watch the radio interview with Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg in Become An Expert. Does he have a valid point? Write a one-page argument supporting or rebutting his comments. Use your own research to include facts and statistics.
Some People Say...
“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”US President Franklin D. Roosevelt
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- Yesterday, Theresa May spoke to the House of Commons. She announced the government is scrapping a fee for EU citizens who must register to stay in the UK after Brexit. May also ruled out a second referendum and extending Article 50 to delay Brexit. Last week, her original deal was defeated heavily by MPs, prompting a vote of no confidence by Labour in her government, which the prime minister survived.
- What do we not know?
- Despite an eventful fortnight, we still do not know what Brexit deal — if any — will be accepted by Parliament. May has not made any significant changes to her deal, although she promised further reassurances on the Northern Irish border and to give MPs more information on the UK’s future relationship with the EU. MPs will vote again later this month.
- Yesterday, the prime minister told the House of Commons that she will not hold a second referendum on leaving the EU or extend Article 50, which would delay the UK’s exit from the EU.
- The total number of people eligible for the survey.
- According to YouGov and Kellner, 600,000 people die in the UK each year. With 80% turnout among older voters, 480,000 voters die each year — roughly 320,000 of whom would have voted Leave at the last election compared with 160,000 who would have voted Remain.
- “crossover day”
- Kellner’s study has been met with scepticism by many pro-Brexit figures, who point out that it was carried out on behalf of the People’s Vote campaign.
- Polly Toynbee
- Her article has sparked controversy. Labour MP Caroline Flint, whose constituency voted Leave in 2016, described Toynbee’s comments as “really unhelpful, ageist and divisive nonsense”.