Bethany School EU referendum: to leave or not to leave?

Posted In Academic, Politics

The nation is in a state of flux at the moment, with seemingly everything happening in politics and elsewhere being Brexit-related. A lack of understanding of the key issues seems to be a nationwide problem, and so our History & Politics department set out to address this issue.

On Thursday 24th January, the Sixth Form were informed of the key issues and arguments relating to Brexit: the original arguments of the Leave and Remain camps; how those arguments have developed since the last referendum; whether there should be a second referendum on our EU membership; and what the options are for our current course of exiting the EU. Trying to cover all of these issues in half an hour was not the easiest task!

Newly armed with this information and the tools to go and research further, the Sixth Form went to the polls on Friday 25th January in our very own second referendum. In 2016, the Sixth Form voted overwhelmingly in favour of ‘Remain’, with almost 75% of the pupils favouring staying in the EU. Although obviously not a direct comparison, given that the pupils are different, the result might give an indication of whether views have shifted.

Our referendum was a two-tiered affair, with the following questions:

Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
  • Leave the European Union
  • Remain a member of the European Union
In the event of a Leave result, which of the following options for leaving the European Union would you support?
  • Extend Article 50 and re-negotiate Mrs May’s deal
  • No deal

On a 64% pupil turnout, the result was a convincing ‘Remain’ victory, but the 60% to 39% vote was less overwhelming than in 2016. One thing that is clear from discussions with pupils is that views on the EU are becoming ever more polarised, with the idea of compromise seeming far from a priority for the pupils, whichever side they chose. In terms of what to do in the event of a Leave vote, more pupils favoured extending Article 50 and renegotiating, but, at 38%, this was some way off securing a majority.

Staff were also invited to vote, and the result here was an even more convincing Remain victory, by a margin of 78% to 22%. Equally convincing was the vote to extend Article 50, with a clear majority of staff in favour of this option if the UK did vote Leave.

Putting the votes together, then, the full Bethany School referendum results are as follows:

Total %
  • Vote Remain 67.3%
  • Vote Leave 31.6%
  • Spoiled papers 1.1%
Total % of those who voted Leave
  • Extend Article 50 and re-negotiate 62.3%
  • Mrs May’s deal 15.3%
  • No deal 20.4%
  • Spoiled papers 2%

An interesting exercise, then, and one that gives Bethany School a clear mandate for the future should we ever decide to unilaterally declare independence from the rest of the UK.