The UK’s most important referendum to date, which resulted in Britain voting to leave the European Union, has highlighted how the voices of the youth have been ignored. The tidal waves of the political impact of Brexit have crashed the stability of our country with the younger generation set to be affected more than anyone else.
Politics have never faced such an uncertain time as now with drastic and indelible decisions being made right before our very own eyes. Brexit means that future generations must live with the consequences of leaving the EU. This step will significantly impact upon the 16 and 17-year-olds who had been denied the opportunity to vote. Instead, the decision was made primarily by the older generation who will not have to grow up with the impact of Brexit.
Insinuating that the younger generation is ‘doomed’ may seem hysterical and dramatic, to say the least. The figures reflecting the health of the economy since the referendum in June have remained relatively stable, though the unpredictability of what is to come could be catastrophic. Understandably, no politician is certain of what life after Brexit entails, though Prime Minister Theresa May states that there “will be a restoration of sovereignty for the British people,” but at what cost one must question.
The future outside of the EU is one that many have stated will have impinging consequences. As someone who has lived their entire life with Britain being a member state of the EU, it seems incredible that we have chosen to leave. To make matters even worse, Theresa May has indicated that we are set to leave the EU Single Market. Shockingly, some of those who voted ‘leave‘ claimed that Britain could leave the EU and remain a part of the single market. Many benefits of remaining within the EU extend from the free movement of goods, people, and services.
It is likely that most young people in Britain were supporters of the 'remain' campaign and pro-EU. Nick Clegg, who has championed the voices of the youth, has consistently criticised the incumbent government for their inability to include the young people into their plans for Brexit, making them feel ‘side-lined.' He further stated how the executives have ‘dashed the aspirations of the younger voice’ whereby young people feel unrepresented, disillusioned and disengaged with the Brexit vote. Looking back on the referendum, as a 17-year-old politics student, it was incredibly frustrating not to be allowed to vote on a decision that I was more informed about than some of the eligible voters.
The results have come and gone, but we must now look at the impact it will have on the younger generation. Leaving the EU could have detrimental effects for our international students studying in our universities as we risk attracting the highest talent and falling even further behind our European counterparts.
For all that Brexit encompasses, it has demonstrated the government’s total disregard for the voices of the youth. Though there are many expectations of what life outside the EU will comprise of, it is undeniable that ‘Britain will need to find a new role for itself outside of the EU’ as the Prime Minister has stated. If we are to ensure that life after Brexit is not ‘doomed,' then the youth will now more than ever need to become politically engaged.