A Lost Tribe provides the most comprehensive examination to date into Britain’s young eurosceptics – looking into the issues they care about and their feelings on the society they live in.
Presenting a detailed analysis of the characteristics and attitudes most strongly associated with pro-Leave sentiment among young British people, this report provides a timely and important contribution to existing Brexit-related research.
The report, authored by HJS research fellow Dr Rakib Ehsan for the Society’s Centre on Social & Political Risk, has received a parliamentary endorsement from Conservative MP Andrea Jenkyns. Praising the report, Ms Jenkyns advanced the view that it “breaks through ideologically-charged attempts to homogenise social groups.”
One of the sharpest dividing lines between young pro-Leave people and their pro-Remain peers, was their perspective on cultural diversity. While 46.7% of young eurosceptics held a negative view of the culturally diverse nature of modern-day British society, only 6.4% of their pro-EU peers followed suit.
There are a number of other important findings:
- Defying the broader social trend, young pro-Leave people were more trusting of politicians than their pro-Remain peers in the lead-up to the June 2016 referendum.
- The report found that young pro-Leave people are more “security-oriented” than their pro-Remain peers – being more likely to prioritise national issues as immigration, defence, terrorism, and crime.
- Discovering notable gender differences, 64% of young pro-Leave people in the survey were male; the corresponding figure for the pro-Remain subgroup was 49.9%.
The report concludes that while failure to deliver Brexit is likely to provide a boost for the mobilisation and recruitment efforts of the far right, a disruptive withdrawal from the EU could inject considerable youthful energy into the Scottish independence movement – heightening the risk of Scotland’s separation from the rest of the UK.
The study is based on a nationally representative survey of 1,351 young British adults and was conducted in May 2016 by YouGov. Although now three years old, this survey remains one of the largest systematic surveys into British young people’s socio-political attitudes and their views on the UK’s membership of the EU.
What others are saying
I welcome Dr Rakib Ehsan’s excellent report for the Henry Jackson Society. ‘A Lost Tribe’ offers much-needed insight in order to understand the strongest predictors of pro-Leave sentiments among young people. The report breaks through ideologically-charged attempts to homogenise social groups and divide the country into ‘young vs old’ and ‘educated vs uneducated’. Instead, Dr Ehsan offers a nuanced look at young people’s valid concerns regarding EU membership and how they would vote. The referendum result, as proven by ‘A Lost Tribe’, may not be explained by a reductionist economic argument; the role of identity, place and belonging, and values are all crucial. All involved in politics should look to the report if they want to understand and gain the trust of those young Brexiteers. I believe this is our mission to rebuild trust in British politics.
Andrea Jenkyns MP