Morgan – New poll reveals hard Brexit is alienating a generation of young people

A new poll of students, commissioned by the Open Britain campaign, has revealed that they feel their views on Brexit are being ignored by the Government. They mainly voted Remain in the referendum campaign; are pessimistic about the outcome of the Brexit negotiations; oppose hard Brexit; and overwhelming want to have a final say over the Brexit deal.

To examine the attitudes of students towards Brexit, Open Britain teamed up with YouthSight, the experts in researching Millennials. The survey, the most extensive of its kind since the referendum, revealed three key findings. 

Students are pro-European. The overwhelming majority of students (84%) voted Remain and 99% of them have no ‘bregrets’ about doing so. By contrast, 9% of the 16% of students who voted Leave regret it. Among students who did not vote, two-thirds now say they would vote Remain, compared to just 13% who would vote to Leave.

For them, the economy is the priority. Regardless of how they voted. For both Remain (76%) and Leave (64%) voters, protecting jobs and future employment opportunities was the top priority in the Brexit negotiations. As a result, the clear majority support a soft Brexit (72%) over a hard Brexit (17%), though nearly two thirds of Leave voting students favour the latter.

Young people want their voice to be heard. They are extremely pessimistic about the outcome of Brexit negotiations, particularly on the economy. More than five times as many students think their prospects will change for the worse because of Brexit than for the better. Consequently, they are critical of the Government. By a ratio of fourteen to one young people think that the Government are engaging with young people badly. Most importantly, more than eight in ten students want to have their say over the final Brexit deal, with 53% backing a second referendum and 25% wanting it done through their elected representatives in Parliament. 

Nicky Morgan MP, leading supporter of the Open Britain campaign, said:

“Young people will be most affected by Brexit and will have to live with its ramifications for the longest. The decisions taken in the negotiations will determine their future opportunities but, shamefully, they feel they are being locked out of the political debate and have no one to speak for them. 

“Young people feel overlooked and pessimistic about their own futures and are simply not prepared to write Ministers a blank cheque to pursue Brexit at any cost.

“The next generation want a democratic backstop against the kind of hard, destructive Brexit they fear will put our economy at risk, damage their life chances and alienate them even more.

“It is clear from this research that young people expect their MPs to have a proper meaningful say over the final Brexit deal. MPs must have a say at the end of the Government’s negotiations with the EU, whatever the outcome.

“It cannot be right that the EU Parliament could have a greater say than the UK Parliament – those in favour of leaving the EU campaigned to ‘take back control’ and that control rests properly in our Parliament.” 

Ben Marks, the Managing Director of YouthSight, added:

“This research shows that the next generation of business leaders, teachers, doctors and politicians are unhappy about most aspects of Brexit.

“Referendum participation among students was high. The Remain vote was dominant, and the idea of a hard Brexit is extremely unpopular.

“It’s unusual to see such a definitive picture emerge from opinion research among students, so these results should sound a note of caution for those in power looking to push through a hard Brexit agenda whilst retaining the support of the next generation of professionals on whom the country will be dependent.” 


Notes to editors

YouthSight are an award-winning youth research agency:

YouthSight surveyed 1,023 full-time undergraduate students to see how they voted; how they feel about their vote now; what their views are on key topics related to Brexit; whether they feel pessimistic or optimistic about the outcome of Brexit; and how they feel about the Government’s engagement with young people to date.

The central findings and results can be read in this note:

Full tables and methodology can be seen on the YouthSight website here: