Update: the letter seems to have had its desired effect: Emilia and Isabelle’s father has changed his mind and will vote “remain” – “I will vote for the future that you chose”, he told them.
Britain’s too-close-to-call referendum on EU membership has split the country, but also divided families.
With a large generation gap around voting intentions in Thursday’s poll, two sisters’ public plea to their parents could represent a hidden trend.
Isabelle O’Carroll, 34, wrote a joint letter with her sister Emilia to try and persuade their mother and father to change their minds over wanting to quit the EU.
Pollsters say a majority of people over 55 want to leave Brussels, while 69 percent of those under 35 will choose to stay.
O’Carroll, based in London, wrote a 2,000-word piece responding to an email from her mother, which set out her reasons for wanting to leave.
The journalist’s response included addressing accusations that the EU represented a federal super-state that behaves like a dictatorship.
She wrote to her parents: “You are obviously entitled to your own opinion and it’s better to discuss these things and have a healthy debate than to not say anything at all.
“That said we are both concerned that you may not have sight of the facts and truths with which to make a real, educated choice on what is an incredibly important decision, with far greater impact on us and our children, than on you.”
The letter concludes
“Facts have been very, very thin on the ground in the Leave campaign, and as more people defect from the campaign – Baroness Warsi who has been documented as being pro-Leave since 2014, was the latest to defect, because of Farage’s hateful media campaign and the ‘lies’ spread by Michael Gove – it becomes clear that while there might be room for EU reform, a referendum campaign based on xenophobia, distorted figures and fear-mongering is not the best approach and is having a dangerous effect on the UK as a society and community.”
Those fighting to keep Britain in the EU have been trying to get the young to vote, but also to persuade their parents and grandparents.
O’Carroll, later speaking to Euronews, said: “After we asked her how she was voting, my mum wrote us an email, in French, detailing why she wanted to vote leave. The leave campaign has been full of dangerous rhetoric and out-and-out lies, so we wanted to try to balance out some of the misinformation.
“Our mother is French, our father is Irish, my maternal grandfather’s family fled Iran in the 1910s, escaping religious persecution. We are a family of immigrants who have benefited from a unified Europe.
“My parents’ generation is one that had access to affordable housing, free education, free healthcare and pensions at 60. For us these things either no longer exist or are in jeopardy and yet our parents’ generation are willing to bequeath us years of potential political and financial instability that will continue long after they are gone.”
Read the full letter