Despite the In campaign’s best efforts to reach the youth vote with the help of Britain Stronger in Europe board member June Sarpong, some youngsters still find themselves leaning towards Brexit.
Both Liz Truss and Diane Abbott learnt this the hard way on last night’s Question Time when a young audience member offered up her argument for leaving the EU. Responding to the Environment Secretary’s claim that the Prime Minister’s EU negotiation deal will reduce the ‘pull factors’ attracting migrants to Britain, Lexie Hill — a 16-year-old schoolgirl — explained why she disagreed:
Audience member: I’m sorry but I can’t accept Liz’s arguments. What is increasing the living wage to £9-per-hour in 2020 going to do? Especially Eastern Europeans who have a minimum wage that’s already one tenth of what ours is’
David Dimbleby: So what would you do: not touch the minimum wage or get out of the EU?
Audience member: We can have someone unskilled within Europe coming in without any questions, but a really talented doctor from India has to go through a really intensive process. It doesn’t make sense.
While Truss found herself lost for words, her fellow In campaign comrade Diane Abbott eventually managed a reply — stating that her parents were immigrants:
‘My parents were immigrants so the audience will forgive me if I say I worry about a narrative on immigration which only stresses the negatives which is riddled with myths that immigrants just come here to live off benefits and actually panders to people and raises expectations that you clear the streets of anyone foreign-looking. In 2016 in a globalised world it’s not going to happen.’
Abbott then went on to criticise David Cameron for failing to answer a question on migrants, in the Commons:
‘I was in the House of Commons this week and one of his own Conservative MPs asked David Cameron: will his fiddling around with benefits, how many fewer migrants will we see? He didn’t answer. Cameron’s renegotiation is a con.’
Given that Dimbleby went on to cut Abbott off — asking her to return to the topic at hand — Mr S suspects she ought to take a look in the mirror the next time she considers accusing someone of avoiding the question. After all, with the audience member suggesting that Britain ought to have a system which allows skilled immigrants from countries like India priority access over unskilled migrants from Eastern Europe, Abbott’s point about people trying to ‘clear the streets of anyone foreign-looking’ appears to miss the point.