The sheep farmer and the pensioner

    Much has been written on the likely voting breakdown between younger and older people. Received wisdom suggests that the younger you are the more likely you are to vote Remain. In elections, though, it’s not so predictable. We talk with two older voters, you might be surprised

    Jonathan Howard

    Jonathan Howard has been a lifelong sheep farmer in Ticehurst, where his family have also grown fruit since just after the war. Unlike many farmers, the father of five wants out of the EU.

    Mr Howard believes that more farmers are now coming round to the Leave side.

    “Opinion has changed. When the Referendum was first announced most of the farmers wanted to stay in because of the subsidies. But I get the feeling it’s now about 50/50.

    “The subsidies do keep a lot of them from going bankrupt, but it would be nice to go back to the 70’s when the British Government supported agriculture. Now they don’t care.”

    As to not having European workers to pick fruit, Mr Howard’s answer is to get unemployed British youngsters out to work again, and call in extra people if needed.

    “It’s a bit like sheep-shearing,”

    he said. “We have always been able to have special dispensation to get people from other parts of the world to come and get the fleeces off.”

    He doesn’t think leaving will affect him as a French property owner, either, having owned a house in Portugal before the Maastricht Treaty.

    “I am not the slightest bit worried,” he said. “I pay the French taxes. I can’t see that there’s going to be any difference.

    “I love Europe but I want England out because of the rules and regulations coming from Brussels. They have taken too much for granted. They’ve been warned people are unhappy and haven’t taken a blind bit of notice.

    “If you run your own business you know what good legislation is and what is bad. The ones who want to stay are people in jobs who turn up at 9am and go home at 5. There’s no oomph and they don’t want to rock the boat.

    Robert Franck

    Robert Franck was born in France but is a UK citizen, having lived most of his life here, and he now resides in Tunbridge Wells. He wants to stay in Europe.

    The father of four and former ICI textile expert agrees a lot of seniors will vote to leave.

    “But a lot won’t,” he said. “Older people have more time to think. There are very few in my circle who want to leave. I can only think of two.

    “In my view staying in the EU beats leaving it. People talk about immigration, but it’s a complete red herring. It’s not a bad thing – just badly organised. This country has always lived on immigrants.

    “It would only be bad if entire populations came to England, and that’s ridiculous. Most people come for three or four years to earn some money then go home again.

    “As for complaints about the lack of surgeries and schools, that’s because we don’t have enough surgeries and schools, or housing.

    “If we leave Europe everyone in Germany and France will be rubbing their hands. The Germans will welcome all  the bankers to Frankfurt and the French will dig away at our customers all over the world. I know these people. It would be a big bonus for them. We would lose out, and quite quickly.

    “There are issues, including the bureaucracy in Brussels, but it’s not important enough for us to run the risk of a huge economic fallout, and if we do leave nobody knows what is going to happen. It’s all emotional.

    “People of my age say it was much nicer 40 years ago, we want to go back to that. But you don’t go back in history, ever.

    “We are much better in because we can help make policy so we all get richer and richer, and stop others’ policies if we don’t agree with them.

    “If we are outside Europe we have no power at all.”