Last summer thousands of us were left in disarray after the chilling results of the Brexit vote were announced. We were going to leave the EU, and I, for one, was pretty distraught about it. Throughout the entire referendum campaign I was certain that Remain would win, and a few months down the line we would look back and laugh about how silly everyone was for even talking about a referendum.
Everywhere I turned, people were voting to remain. My social media feeds were full of Remain posts being shared, and the people in my seminars and my circle of friends were all convinced this would be the result. We would remain in the EU and that would be that. I have since realised that this is because of the demographic of people I was surrounded by.
Every person I discussed the vote with was young, educated, motivated by that education and their career prospects, and most importantly, tolerant. Brexit hit students like a slap in the face, because we had failed to see that our vote would be dwarfed by older people who clearly did not share our views.
Everywhere I turned, people were voting to remain. My social media feeds were full of Remain posts being shared
Students across the country clearly felt the same as the people I noticed in daily life – they were angry. According to a survey by the National Union of Students, 63 per cent of students asked agreed that there should be a second referendum. This comes after campaigning from the Liberal Democrats for the terms of Brexit to be put to the people in the form of a second referendum, likely in 2019.
The trigger has already been pulled by Theresa May invoking Article 50 on March 29th, and a second referendum might just be the bulletproof vest we need to soften the blow. Being able to vote on the terms of our exit from the European Union would give us young people, whose voices have been drowned out by a generation who, frankly, are not going to be affected by their choice in the long run, a say in our own future. By ignoring the wishes of students and refusing calls for a second referendum, the government has once again succeeded in alienating millennials and remaining ignorant to our needs.
A second referendum might just be the bulletproof vest we need to soften the blow
It seems like an action devoid of sense to pursue a policy which was voted for by the old who will not have to experience the long-term consequences of their choice. What’s done is done, and Brexit can certainly not be undone; there is no potential for quashing tensions between Europe and the UK now, especially not by the PM no-one even voted for, Theresa May. That being said, I believe we would benefit from a second referendum where we could choose the terms of our ungracious departure from the EU, not least because it would show respect to the opinions of 48% of the population who realised that this whole business was in fact nonsense.
I can’t help but think that Scotland had the right idea by including 16 and 17 year olds in the 2014 Scottish Referendum. Inviting the future of your country to take part in a vote that will affect them isn’t just smart, it’s fair. While we’re at it, uninviting older members of the public from voting might be wise as well. I don’t think that it’s too radical to stop people from voting if it is clear that the effects of Britain departing from the EU won’t be felt by them.
There is no potential for quashing tensions between Europe and the UK now, especially not by the PM no-one even voted for, Theresa May
It’s difficult to describe how heart-breaking it was to hear my Grandma explaining on the phone how happy she was that we were going to be leaving. I was simultaneously angry and incredulous, particularly at her reasoning that she had experienced how good it was being in the UK before we were part of the EU; Hearing her talking about those times like they were the good old days just made me realise how naïve she was. This is 2017, not 1973, things have changed. Continuing full-steam ahead with a policy that doesn’t suit the tolerance, openness, awareness and increased education of today’s youth seems like an incredibly narrow-minded decision.