Young people targeted in the EU referendum debate

30 March 2016

The Education Secretary is due to issue an appeal for young people to vote in the 23rd June EU referendum. Nicky Morgan will speak at the Fashion Retail Academy, a specialist vocational college in London next week. While there, she will warn that leaving the EU will most likely have a negative impact on the economic future of young people and could herald a "lost generation."

In the speech, Morgan also plans to ask young people to encourage older members of their families to vote, stating that by not doing so, they may be gambling with the future of their children and grandchildren. The concern highlighted by the Education Secretary is that while young people may be more interested in Britain remaining in the EU overall, they are also less likely to mobilise to vote. Whereas older people, who have been shown through recent surveys to back Brexit, will be more motivated to do so.

David Cameron’s chief strategist in last year’s election, Lynton Crosby, demonstrated through research how factors such as age and willingness to vote would be vital to the outcome of the referendum. The focus on young people in this way can be interpreted as a warning that the Remain camp could lose if it fails to motivate its voters.

Morgan is also due to argue that the current generation has become used to accessibility and freedom of travel, and therefore will want Britain to stay connected with the rest of the world. She went on to say: "These young people have grown up in a world where international cooperation, economic growth, technological advancements and social media have seen barriers being torn down across the world." As a result, Morgan feels that a continued international presence is of interest to young people, and this will help them to create a better future for themselves.

Morgan will also state in her speech that the younger generation is more progressive in their outlook, citing recent developments in gender and sexual equality, as well as on-going campaigns to target climate change and alleviation from poverty. She will also talk about young people from her constituency who attend Loughborough University, and states that they have said that they want to see the UK at the forefront of continuing to tackle these global issues. Morgan maintains that these young people believe the UK will have an overall stronger presence and influence by remaining part of the 28-nation block.

Vote Leave spokesman Robert Oxley countered to this planned speech by saying: "It is depressing that the education secretary is so willing to do down the chances of young people as part of Number 10’s desperate bid to win the referendum. The EU has not been good for young people, driving up costs and forcing down wages while leaving a generation unemployed on the continent. Given the government is still borrowing a fortune, it is future generations who are footing the bill for the £350m we send to Brussels each week. The best thing we could do for current and future generations is to spend our money on our priorities."

Meanwhile, Cameron has argued that immigration remains the number one issue that is likely to motivate those people who are still undecided to back Brexit.

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