The Government has failed to explain Article 50 to young people properly, survey suggests

Two fifths of 18 to 24-year-olds do not know what Article 50 is

Adam Withnall
Monday 07 November 2016 01:19
Protesters demonstrate against the EU referendum result outside Parliament in June
Protesters demonstrate against the EU referendum result outside Parliament in June

More than four months after the UK voted at a referendum to leave the EU, more than one in four young British adults still have little or no understanding of Brexit and what it means for the country, a poll has shown.

The issue of when and how the Government will trigger Article 50 and begin the process of Brexit has dominated the news agenda for weeks since the vote.

Yet two fifths of 18 to 24-year-olds surveyed were not able to correctly identify what Article 50 actually was.

Knowledge of Brexit was better among older generations, according to the poll which quizzed 2,000 people of all ages on their knowledge of a range of current affairs topics.

But even across all age groups, 53 per cent of Britons were unable to identify the Chancellor of the Exchequer as being Phillip Hammond - the man who will be tasked with guiding the UK through the economic minefield of leaving the EU. One in five thought the Chancellor was still George Osborne.

Brexit was one of the top 10 current affairs topics which Britons confessed to knowing the least about in a survey commissioned by The Week Junior, a children’s news magazine which has produced a series of videos narrated by 10-year-olds to help navigate the trickiest topics.

Based on the percentage of adults who said they have little to no knowledge of the subject, the top 10 current affairs topics misunderstood by British adults were as follows:

The survey found those in the youngest age brackets performed worst across the board, but nowhere was this more evident than with Brexit.

More than 90 per cent of those older than 55 know what Article 50 is, the poll found, while 82 per cent of those in his age range said they were confident in their knowledge of Brexit as a whole.

It seems ubiquitous news coverage does not lend itself to broader understanding of international topics, either. Despite the US election being just around the corner, only 15 per cent of respondents were confident they knew the key details about the main parties.

Quizzed on the Syria crisis, fewer than half of British adults were able to identify Damascus as the capital of Syria. A sizeable number (15 per cent) thought it was the besieged city of Aleppo.

And just 38 per cent of those surveyed correctly identified Isis, Isil, the Islamic State and Daesh as all being terms to refer to the same terrorist group.

Researchers found many respondents admitted to lying to cover up their lack of knowledge of major issues, with four in 10 confessing to changing the subject at social events when current affairs were discussed.

Anna Bassi, editor of The Week Junior, told The Independent: "It’s a shame that so many adults avoid broaching the big issues like Brexit, often leading to a lack of understanding. The inquisitive nature of children means they are willing to ask questions to solve a conversational problem – so adults need to be able to answer them, rather than avoid the subject altogether."

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