IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Being young in Brexit Britain

A UCL-funded project that explored young people's attitudes towards and aspirations after the Brexit referendum.

This project examined young people's attitudes towards Brexit and explores their hopes, fears, and aspirations for the future of Britain (and for their own future in Britain). 

In the process, the study focused not just on young Remainers, but also shedded much needed light on the attitudes, aspirations and identities of young people that supported Britain leaving the EU.

The project ended in December 2018.


Preliminary analysis of the EU referendum results indicated that young people under 30 were more likely to vote Remain, and we know that young people are more likely to report having a post-national identity that incorporates a European dimension.

We expected that this age group would be more likely to be affected by many of the negative consequences that have been predicted (such as higher unemployment, and greater restrictions on mobility for study and work, to name but two). 


In light of this, we wanted to examine young Briton's attitudes towards the results and its aftermath, their expectations and aspirations for the future, and whether their identities were starting to shift away from the post-national position that we have come to expect of the younger generation.

In the process, this project also aimed to shed light on the attitudes, aspirations and identities of the young people that supported Britain leaving the EU.

Although this is a minority position, this view is one that is held by a substantial minority of young people (c. 30% by some estimates). This group are not only typically characterised as being 'left behind' by globalisation but they also tend to be overlooked by debates which instead focus on the position that most young people have taken (i.e. to support Remain).

Even though these young Leavers are often less likely to vote, understanding their motivations and aspirations is important if we are to understand the wider socio-political context in which their civic and political identities are emerging, and the potential consequences of this for social and political attitudes and behaviours.


We looked at these questions from a qualitative perspective, using a combination of focus groups and in-depth interviews.

The young participants were between the ages of 15 and 29, and at a range of different stages in young adulthood (studying at further education college or university, on the cusp of graduation, experiencing their first full-time employment, or struggling to find work). 

Research team