Young people will suffer most if UK leaves EU, says Nicky Morgan

Nicky Morgan - Leaving EU 'devastating for young people'

Young people will be hit hardest by a vote to leave the European Union, Nicky Morgan has warned as she urged them to make sure they have their say on June 23.

The Education Secretary said firms are already cutting back on the number of entry level jobs they advertise because they are afraid of what a Brexit could mean for the UK economy.

Mrs Morgan also insisted the Conservatives will be able to heal the deep rift at the heart of their party caused by the referendum campaign but criticised Leave campaigners for making "disingenuous" claims about criminals being allowed to move to the UK from Europe.

Speaking at the Fashion Retail Academy in London, Mrs Morgan said: "We know that it's young people who will face the brunt of the damage a vote to leave will bring.

"Because the great recession demonstrated the stark reality that when we experience economic shocks, the likes of which we could suffer if we leave the EU, it's young people who suffer.

"As we saw in that recession, the largest increases in the rate of unemployment were amongst young people.

"But that shouldn't be a surprise because when the economy struggles and firms stop hiring, it's those in the entry level who they stop recruiting first."

Mrs Morgan warned that a reduction in the number of entry level jobs would mean increased competition for young people.

"It's clear that if Britain leaves Europe it will be young people who suffer the most," she said.

Mrs Morgan said that young people want the UK to "choose internationalism over isolation" on June 23 because being in the EU gives the UK the power to "exercise even more clout on the world stage".

She said: "I want young people to make sure that their voices are heard in this debate, whichever side of the debate that they might be on, otherwise they risk having the decision made by other people.

"Their future decided for them, not by them."

Mrs Morgan also urged young people to spell out to their parents and grandparents what the cost of a Brexit could be for their future.

Mrs Morgan was asked in a Q&A after her speech if she believes the Tories will be able to come back together after the EU referendum, given the ferocity with which both sides are conducting the campaign.

But the Education Secretary downplayed the seriousness of the divisions as she said it is natural for the debate to be "passionate".

She said: "Yes, of course, the party will absolutely come back together, but this is an issue that people in my party feel incredibly passionate about and have done for a long, long time."

Meanwhile, she said that it is "incumbent" on the Government to "point out the risks" of a vote to leave.

"We do need to have a tone that actually is both respectful but also informative," she said.

But the frontbencher bemoaned the fact that there has been a "constant obsession with personalities" during the campaign.

She also criticised the Leave campaign over claims that dozens of dangerous criminals have been able to move to the UK from Europe.

Mrs Morgan said that "one of the difficulties" faced by those in favour of a Brexit is that "there isn't a lot of facts to support them" because "nobody knows what's going to happen" as she accused campaigners of being "rather disingenuous".