April 10, 2019 / 10:00 AM / 5 months ago

More young voters could tip scales to stay in new Brexit referendum: Spanish FM

Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell speaks to the media during the NATO Foreign Minister's Meeting at the State Department in Washington, U.S., April 4, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

MADRID (Reuters) - The demographic shift in Britain three years after its decision to leave the European Union could tip the scales in favor of remaining should a second referendum be held, Spain’s Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said on Wednesday.

Britain voted by a narrow margin in June 2016 to leave the EU but parliament has been unable to agree on how this will be managed, prompting calls for a second referendum.

Spain is particularly affected as nearly 300,000 British people live in Spain, many of whom are pensioners living in coastal regions, while the Spanish economy depends heavily on tourism with Britons being the most numerous foreign visitors.

Borrell said another referendum did not guarantee a different outcome. But a rise in the number of eligible young voters, who tended to vote remain, and a fall in the number of older voters, more likely to choose Brexit, could tip the balance, he said.

“It’s true that, with young people in favor of remaining and older people leaving, just through the passing of these three years, with the demographic dynamics as they are, I’m sure the result would be different,” Borrell told Telecinco TV.

European Union leaders are expected to grant Prime Minister Theresa May a second delay to Brexit at an emergency meeting on Wednesday ahead of the latest deadline of Friday, with EU diplomats saying a year-long extension was likely.

Reporting by Paul Day; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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