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“You don’t always win”: Students on a second Brexit referendum

According to NUS research, 63% of students agree that there should be a second referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal. Students have been unhappy ever since the vote, as the majority of young people were on the Remain side of the argument – 75% of young voters supported Remain, as opposed to 39% of over 65s. Cue the criticisms that the government is ignoring the wishes of young people, pushing through a direction for the country that they didn’t choose. Is this a fair complaint?


It seems a massive percentage, but youth support for Remain only includes those who actually bothered to turn up and vote. It’s easy to say that this result is ignoring their wishes, but polls suggest just 36% of 18-24 year olds turned up to have their say (as compared with around 83% of the 65+).


Though there’s some doubt over the exact turnout numbers, that a lower proportion of young people voted is widely accepted. I know that if you voted and didn’t get the result you wanted it’s a shame, but if young people really wanted their wishes to be counted, they knew what to do on June 23. It’s hard to feel for young people who say they’re getting stiffed with a result they say they don’t want, when many couldn’t be bothered to vote against it (and, based on these figures, Remain would have won if young turnout equalled 65+ turnout).


Cue the criticisms that the government is ignoring the wishes of young people


Regardless of statistics, I’m of the opinion that a second referendum on the terms of Britain’s exit would be a bad decision. It would encourage the EU to give Britain a bad deal. The people calling for this don’t really care about the terms of the deal, if we’re honest about it. All they need is the chance to undermine the result however they can, so they can blame the bloody idiot Brexiteers and get the result they wanted but denied them.


There are reasons to be unhappy with the referendum result, but to say that it shouldn’t be listened to because old people voted and they’re going to die soon is frankly despicable reasoning. I mean, what next? Let’s take the vote from terminally ill people, old and young – after all, they aren’t going to see the consequences of the results. It’s just horrible. This referendum levelled the playing field throughout the country. Old or young, rich or poor, everybody’s vote was worth the same.

The people calling for this don’t really care about the terms of the deal, if we’re honest about it


Young people are justifying their stance by claiming old people are uneducated bigots, motivated to vote to get rid of all foreigners and return to the Britain of the 1950s. I think we should look at it a different way. The over-65s remember a time before the EU project, and have seen it from inception to the present day. They, more than any of us, are in a position to cast judgement on it. By contrast, the young have never known a world outside of the EU – and, for them, the loss of it is easily seen as an apocalyptic event.


What we’re seeing here is a generation whose feelings of entitlement take precedence over all else. They didn’t get their way, so they think they can shout and stomp their feet until they can get what they want. You don’t have to be happy with the result, and it’s a joy of democracy that you can grumble about it all you like, but being young doesn’t make your desires and wishes any more important than anybody else’s. I’m sorry if you don’t like it, but that’s the problem with democratic votes – you don’t always win.

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Comments (1)

  • Joseph Green

    Really really good article. I was going to write something very similar until I found this.

    Trying to take the vote away from the elderly is nothing more than a kicking and screaming reaction – lacking logic of any kind. You made a good parallel on doing the same with the terminally ill.

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