So David Cameron’s big speech on Europe is not happening today after all but this does not mean that there are no interesting news about the UK in Europe. The London Office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the Fabian Society have just released a new poll conducted by YouGov revealing a significant generational divide in British attitudes to the EU. While nationally there is a 12-point lead for those who wish to leave the European Union, amongst those aged 18-34, there is a 32-point lead in favour of remaining part of the EU. In contrast, amongst the over 60s, leaving the European Union has a 23-point lead. In a nutshell, 67% of 18-34 year old Brits would vote to stay in the EU. Here are the full results:
Commenting on the results of the poll Andrew Harrop, General Secretary of the Fabian Society, said:
There is a stark generational divide on the issue of Britain’s future in Europe. While all generations are split on the benefits of membership of the EU, the majority of voters aged 18 to 34 back staying in the union.
It is younger people who will have to live with the consequences of whatever decisions politicians and perhaps the public may take on our EU membership. On balance, 18 to 34 year-olds support a European future for Britain and this should weigh heavily on the minds of older age-groups when they consider how they would vote in any referendum.
As calls for an in-out referendum grow, supporters of the UK’s place in the EU can take heart from the solid core of support for Europe among younger generations. This is founded on a sense of the personal benefits of membership, the value of international cooperation on key issues like climate change and banking reform and a concern that if we leave Britain could become isolated on the world stage.
Labour’s Shadow Europe minister Emma Reynolds MP said:
The 18-34 age group have grown up with globalisation and know that the idea of an isolated Britain outside of the EU belongs to a by-gone era.
The polling shows not only that two thirds want the UK to remain in the EU but also see Europe as providing solutions to the big challenges that we face such as climate change, the global economic crisis and cross border crime.
It is therefore vital that we engage this age group in the debate on our future relationship with Europe and work with them to ensure our future lies in leading a reformed EU.
The director of FES London Ulrich Storck said:
While the EU has recently been honoured with the Nobel prize for its past achievements, it remains an ongoing project for the future. The reforms of the EU should address – above all – the prospects of the next generation: their liberty, security and prosperity should be the overall objective.
Policymakers should therefore base their decisions on the young generation’s views, and less on the majorities of older citizens. Our poll clearly shows that the British young generation see their future in the EU. British policymakers who are responsible today for deciding on Britain’s future in the EU should let themselves be guided by this result.
So there you have it: The young generation sees Britain’s future in the EU. This should give pro-Europeans a valuable new starting point to base a new and better strategy on. It is about time for pro-Europeans to start the fightback.