Daily Express

Ross Clark

- Political commentato­r

about opportunit­ies to study, work and relax abroad. But then many older people also like to travel.

The difference is that they have more experience of life and politics to be able to balance the good things which came with EU membership with some of the bad.

Don’t forget that those in their 70s now were in their 30s in 1975 when Britain voted by a two-thirds majority to stay in what was then the European Economic Community (EEC).

What has swung their opinion is that they have seen, over the course of 40 years, the EU turn from being what seemed like a straightfo­rward free trade area to a megalomani­ac organisati­on determined to rule above the heads of individual member states. They have seen the European Commission grow from being a civil service carrying out the instructio­ns of member government­s to being a vast, unelected government in its own right.

It would be a very poor outcome of Brexit negotiatio­ns if young people found it harder to work or study in other EU countries. But it is unlikely to happen because it is of mutual interest to all European countries that people have the freedom to travel.

I would forgive an 18-year-old for thinking that the EU was responsibl­e for opening up borders for their gap years but it really isn’t. British passportho­lders are the most fortunate in the world in that they can travel to 173 different countries without having to apply for a visa. Only 27 of these are in the EU. The other 146 have simply followed an internatio­nal trend for liberalisi­ng cross-border travel. That isn’t going to change because of Brexit.

Wiser heads – not all of whom are old – will have realised that however desirable is free movement it is still necessary for a wealthy country to retain control of its borders. No country can tolerate for long a situation where a benefits system or health service funded by taxes on its citizens is made available for free to any foreign national who arrives. But that is what the EU was forcing us to do.

Worse, when David Cameron arrived in Brussels to try to negotiate with the EU’s grey suits on this point they refused to budge, apparently unable to conceive that the voters of an EU state would be so rude as to opt out of the EU’s paternalis­tic care.

THE referendum has been a bruising experience in many ways, pitching colleagues against each other and breaking up old friendship­s. Sadly, it has also encouraged a few racists out of the closet. Those who sprayed graffiti on a Polish community centre at the weekend and beat up a Polish man and his father in east London are not patriots.They are thugs who deserve to be met with the full force of the law.

Britain voted last Thursday to regain its sovereignt­y, not to make foreigners feel unwelcome in Britain. But it is an outrageous fallacy that Remain voters are somehow more full of humanity than those on the Leave side. On the contrary, the result has exposed some horrible attitudes towards older people. The people who are bigoted are not the over-65s who – in many cases after much agonising – came down in favour of Brexit but those who try to accuse them of “betraying” the young. Losing the referendum is no excuse for unleashing a tirade of hate.

‘Referendum has been a bruising experience’

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