Standing up for generation Brexit

WHY has the youth of Britain been denied a say in its own future? After all, it is us that will have to live with the consequences of Brexit, writes 15-year-old Rachel Duffy.

It’s more than four months since the UK voted to leave the European Union and the dust has begun to settle; we have a new Prime Minster along with a new foreign secretary and those who voted either ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’ are both coming to terms with the final vote and impacts it will have for them.

But still new fears are surfacing daily about what this so called ‘Hard Brexit’ will really mean for our generation.

Why weren’t 16 year olds allowed to vote? Is it that we are not mature enough? That we do not have a deep enough understanding of British or European politics? Because on Friday the 24th of June I sat in a classroom full of 15 and 16-year-olds and I heard more common sense, well thought out and passionate arguments, rationality and political awareness than Nigel Farage has in his little finger.

“Because of my passionate want to remain I have been labelled by many of my elders, some of which are even family and friends, as not only naive but ‘exceedingly leftist’ and ‘too liberal’. If believing that children of my own age and remarkably similar background should have the same right to an education in which I too often take for granted then my hands are up, I am.”

It is after all us that will experience the consequences of the decision made by our elders and ‘superiors’. If our government really does want to create such educated, successful and politically aware citizens as it so implies, then surely allowing us a say in our future is a good way to start? Why have the youth of Britain been denied a say in their future? It is after all us that will experience the consequences of the decision made by our elders.

If our government really does want to create such educated, successful and politically aware citizens as it so implies, then surely allowing us a say in our future is a good way to start listening to the opinions of the young.

For decades, young Brits have enjoyed the freedom of Europe; been able to work, study and travel freely on the continent, and enjoy healthcare and other privileges while they do so. As the young of Britain’s careers are statistically far more likely to be reliant upon the European Union surly it is only right that we should have a vote in our future?

Opportunities to freely study, live, work and love in 27 other countries has been mercilessly stripped from us by some who were arguably brainwashed by propaganda, none of which most grossly used than Nigel Farage’s now famous Immigration poster; depicting the world’s most desperate and vulnerable inhabitants trying not to get into the UK, but, to seek a better, safer life for themselves and their families crossing the Croatia-Slovenia border in 2015.

These gross miscarriages of justice take away some of our most basic Human Rights, we all share the rights to education, having fair trials, freedom of expressions and seeking asylum. These are important obligations in international law and something to obey. So why is that in debates and newspaper articles in the run up to June 23rd I heard and read about so much talk of supposed ‘Illegal Asylum Seekers’?

Surely, no human is illegal for trying to escape such unimaginable danger and unjust, unfair, sometimes even illegal prosecution that so many innocent people, just like you and me, sometimes have no idea is even happening?

As a generation we are so incredibly fortunate to live in a country where we truly have the right to free speech and education. Should it have been one of our rights to have a vote in such a momentous decision that will change so many factors in our lives, both short and long term?

If politicians decide to hold a referendum then it is the politician’s duty to inform and persuade the voters. Most people that voted Out, were probably always going to vote out and visa-versa ; the people that tipped the balance were the working classes, people like my parents. They were preyed upon by people who used misinformation and the politics of fear, and they bought it.

Many may still argue that they were not misinformed but we surely all were to an extent, do you see £350 million going into the NHS a week? The reason so many bought it is because they were the only politicians who were actually engaging with them.

The Remain argument was ‘Stay as we are, or risk uncertainty’. It was an argument that many personally agreed with, but if you’ve got nothing then why would you ever possibly vote for things to stay exactly as they are. When thousands of people in the fifth wealthiest country in the world have to rely on foodbanks why would you vote for things to stay as they are?

At least with uncertainty there’s some hope that things may change; if I was in their position I would have done completely the same, at least with uncertainty there is some hope of things getting better. So no wonder when billionaires warned against the damage it would cause to the stock markets normal people just could not relate.

Yes there are a lot of racists in this country, undoubtedly, but not for one minute should people and MPs thing that it is acceptable to label every person who voted to Leave as racist. There is no way that you can accuse 17.5 million people of been racist, each and every one that voted will have had their own unique reasons for doing so.

If you refuse to engage in the argument, you will lose the argument.

There have been glaring age divisions in the leave and remain votes and many have accused the young voters as naive and uneducated. We do not claim to be experts in the constitutional history or complicated day to day life of Parliament. But what is clear to me through speaking to my generation is the compassion and empathy we show with those less fortunate than ourselves.

Throughout the campaign key politicians were heard to be shouting about how we should ‘Make Britain Great Again’. Splashed across campaign buses and on speaking tables it was seen. But what I think makes Britain great appears to be something very different to those politicians. I see Britain as a society that should look after it’s poorest and weakest no matter what creed, race or religion.

Because of my passionate want to remain I have been labelled by many of my elders, some of which are even family and friends, as not only naive but ‘exceedingly leftist’ and ‘too liberal’. If believing that children of my own age and remarkably similar background should have the same right to an education in which I too often take for granted then my hands are up, I am.

Girls just like myself – possible future friends – are growing up and experiencing their childhood in unhygienic, terrifying, crowded camps thousands of miles from a home they may now never be able to return to.

“As a generation we are so incredibly fortunate to live in a country where we truly have the right to free speech and education. Should it have been one of our rights to have a vote in such a momentous decision that will change so many factors in our lives, both short and long term?”

The fact that some people now wish to celebrate June 23rd in later years as a British Independence Day seems to me a gross insult to every single country that Britain has previously, forcibly colonised and now rightfully celebrates their legitimate independence. Not their freedom from a Union that was founded on the values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. The societies of the Member States are characterised by non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men.

So would Brexit make it easier for young people to find jobs in the UK? Much will depend on the economic impact and whether a move to leave the EU would, would trigger an economic reversal in the UK.

If Brexit does prompt a recession, it is young people who are most likely to suffer. Research shows that graduates who enter the jobs market during a recession earn less than those who do so in a buoyant economy, and that the differential persists for years. Researchers at the Centre for European Reform (CER) note that if unemployment were to rise, it would be the under 30s who would be most vulnerable. Us.

A study by PathMotion surveying HR managers and senior executives of 75 top UK graduate employers released last week revealed that 49 per cent of employers said they were likely to lower their intake of graduates if Britain left the EU.

This argument might make sense on a local level, in parts of the country where, for example, the rising number of tradesmen may have depressed wages or made it harder for apprentices to get a start. But on a national level, a drop in immigration would not necessarily help young people looking for work because of the impact on the economy. Remain campaigners repeatedly made the point that immigrants put in more to the economy in terms of taxes than they take out.

Freedom of movement across the EU currently means young people have a wider pool of graduate jobs to choose from and restricting this freedom of movement means that finding a job abroad becomes much harder for young people like us. It may be harder to get visas and fees may be more expensive and in the UK, young people might also find that Brexit changes their student experience. There are more than 20,000 EU students at UK institutions and this number is likely to dwindle.

“If politicians decide to hold a referendum then it is the politician’s duty to inform and persuade the voters. Most people that voted Out, were probably always going to vote out and visa-versa ; the people that tipped the balance were the working classes, people like my parents. They were preyed upon by people who used misinformation and the politics of fear, and they bought it.”

How will it affect young people wanting to study at universities in Europe? Figures from the OECD last year showed that undergraduates in England pay the highest tuition fees in the world, as I’ve spoken about in a previous article about why the higher education system doesn’t add up. Some of our generation have responded by choosing to study at significantly cheaper European universities, but often equally as good, particularly in the Netherlands and Germany.

So I think that we need to fully grasp what this vote means for each and every one us, both locally, individually, as a generation and as a country. Let’s stop throwing insults. Stop playing the blame game. Stop looking for an easy way out, a safe route where you don’t have to stick your head above the water.

Speak out.

Stand up for what you believe in. we need to get active, we need to hold people accountable, we need to realise that what hurts one of us hurts all of us. And we need to actively get involved in our politics and help to create the kind of future that we want to grow up with.

We are the next generation, full of incredible artists, talented engineers and powerful world changers. Our generation has so much intelligence. So much enthusiasm. So much passion and determination to make for a better tomorrow, and we can, and we will make a difference!

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