EU Referendum: Older Leeds voters say ‘we just want the best possible future for our grandchildren’

Pensioners at a coffee morning in Bramley discuss the EU referendum. Pictures:  Tony Johnson

Pensioners at a coffee morning in Bramley discuss the EU referendum. Pictures: Tony Johnson

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For day three of the Yorkshire Evening Post’s 10 day countdown to the EU Referendum on June 23, we visited a coffee morning for older people in Bramley.

Our group of six pensioners featured three ‘leave’ voters, one passionate remainer and two undecideds. The group expressed a breadth of concerns and issues which will influence their vote.

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Solidarity with our European cousins was important, however the changing nature of that relationship over the decades - and the rise of bureaucracy and red tape - was a real turn-off.

But there was also huge concern that a ‘no’ vote could be letting down the next generation, by possibly depriving them of the freedoms of movement and work which many think are vital to success in the modern world.

Mavis Smith, 86, explained: “I’d love England to be like it used to be, but I know that’s not going to happen.

“I am still not sure how I’m voting.

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“I hear so many different views, and there’s been so many lies told.

“But I’m also thinking more than anything about my grandchildren and the younger generation.

“I want the best for them. And so because of them I’m hovering between in and out. I want them to have the freedoms, and the best of everything they possibly can. I was leaning to leaving but I keep changing my mind. Nobody can really say what will happen, whatever way we vote.”

Among the most vocal Brexiters in the group was 84-year old Sidney Lander, whose main worry is the red tape mountain that has become a symbol of the E.U for eurosceptics.

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“When the E.U started, it was a common market, which was a brilliant idea and I voted in at the last referendum,” he said.

“But being governed by [its bureacracy] isn’t.

“It seems to be taken over by...well we don’t even know who’s taken it over!

“Can you name any of the leaders of the European party that makes the laws? I couldn’t name one.”

He also believes that the UK does not have enough high-level influence in the E.U when it comes to ultimate decision-making and regulatory powers, something that he says is enough of a reason to leave.

“We are a small country, but a big economy,” he said.

“And I don’t think we have the voice in Europe that I think our stature [deserves].”

Ian Davison, 69, is another waverer, and says he will make a final decision on the day.

“I don’t think it’s black and white either way,” he said.

“I think there are intelligent people saying stay in, and intelligent people saying ‘out’.

“It has got people talking though, because it’s 40 years since the last referendum.

“With the General Election you can vote the other way next time and get rid of them.

“People should vote though - people have died for the right to vote.”

The most committed remainer in our OAP test group was Alan Green, 88, who has already voted ‘in’ by post.

“I think the NHS will be a lot worse off if we come out, and also the workers will be worse off,” he said.

“‘Leave’ say how much money is going out, but they don’t say how much is coming in. I think they are all telling lies.

“It’s better staying with what you know than going with what you don’t know. I think that’s what a lot of people will vote for.”

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