Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 15 October 2015


At Ivybridge Community College on Friday talking to part of their sixth form about democracy, I asked the question I have been asking young people for over 5 years: if there was a vote tomorrow on whether the UK should leave or remain in the EU, how would you vote. 

There were about 200 young people present. About ten voted to leave – the rest of them voted to stay in. I have never in over five years in five different secondary schools in this constituency extracted an answer that had less than 90% voting to stay. 

Of course there will not be a vote on this tomorrow. But there will be a vote on this before the end of 2017, and probably the autumn of next year. So it is time to start thinking about it. Both the Leave and the Remain campaign are up and running with some big names signing up. We will all be hearing a great deal about this matter in the next twelve months – and rightly so because it is a huge decision. 

It will be close with two recent polls suggesting a small majority in favour of leaving. 

The response of sixth formers could be critical. The vast majority of them will be over 18 by then and will therefore have a vote in the forthcoming referendum. It is an age group that is under represented at general elections with perhaps only thirty per cent voting. The reaction I have observed from them is not just a taken-for-granted commitment to stay in the EU but also a deep dislike of those playing the "foreigner" card to whip up opposition against it. 

My guess is that this age group will be motivated to take a full part in the forthcoming referendum and will vote overwhelmingly to stay in. They might also impact the votes of their grandparents who might be more inclined to vote to leave. Many people who are over sixty with grandchildren often say to me: "this is about their future, not mine."

When we have a debate for the referendum I will ensure that there are many public meetings locally so that the debate might be joined, with both sides of the argument being put fairly and openly. An informed debate is crucial.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the younger generation might, for once, settle the outcome of this future-shaping referendum. In many ways that would be appropriate. 



posted by Gary @ 10:08