Brexit

A Youth In Revolt?

The youth vote remains essential for any hope of staying in the EU.

Joshn Owen 

Naked Politics Blogger

The first day of October saw an estimated 30,000 protestors take to the streets of Manchester to display their dissatisfaction with Brexit. As a student of University of Manchester and a passionate Remain supporter, I was keen to go. But I didn’t. Why was this?

The march was advertised around the university campus, admittedly with minimal exposure reaching the spin doors of the library. There were multiple Facebook events which could have popped up on students’ newsfeeds. But the reality of it all was that very few students wanted to go.

It’s surprising considering that 85% of students voted Remain in the referendum, Manchester Central saw a 15% increase in 18-24 voters voting for Labour in this year’s Snap Election (as many believe that Corbyn and Labour are the antidote to Theresa May’s Hard Brexit or No Deal Brexit) and Manchester homes 40,000 students across the city. So why weren’t any of my mates going to the anti-Brexit march?

There are many possible reasons behind the low student turnout, the mostly likely being:

  1. It is certain that the Conservatives attracted a minority of student vote in the Snap Election. Even if such students also voted Remain in the referendum, it is less likely that these students would have taken to arms to protest at their own party conference.
  2. Secondly, the whole nature of Brexit is a gloomy mirage. No one knows what Brexit looks like, how it will affect our day to day lives, or when it will significantly impact us. Quite rightly, students have deprioritised Brexit amongst dissertations and deadlines as there is no direct impact on students…yet.

But it is still incomprehensible that so many students voted Remain but keep politically dormant. The fact is, as a critical vote approaches, politics resurfaces amongst the youth. The youth know that as a democracy, our votes are monumental. Students do care- and a multitude of students still want Britain to remain in the EU.

The chance to remain in the EU is still an option. Theresa May was recently given secret advice, stating that the UK can revoke the declaration of Article 50 before the end of March 2019. As a democracy, we must respect the public’s opinion from June 2016. However, as a democracy, we must also speak up and raised our voices when promises are not delivered. Time has passed since the dismal campaigns from Remain and Leave, and we now know that what was promoted by the Leave camp was a pack of lies. Do we really want to make such a momentous decision on the basis of a fabricated fantasy?

So, how does one awaken the voice of the youth to kickstart an anti-Brexit surge? As horrifying as it sounds; a second referendum on the final deal. There are many politicians urging the government to give the country one more chance to reconsider Brexit.  This would entail a vote between the decided deal drawn up by the UK and the EU (which, potentially, might not exist if negotiations continue to plunder), or remaining in the EU; deal, or no deal? And if no deal? Remain.

It is daunting to imagine that we might experience another night of pure horror; David Dimbleby could potentially announce to the UK that we have accepted the EU’s deal. But without a vote, students will choose to Snooze, take less notice of the alarm bells and remain hungover in bed. If you give the youth another chance, they will take it. And they will take it in their droves.

Yet there is another solution. Quite simply, the youth could take an extra five minutes of their time to observe the Brexit process online. It is crucial that we keep up with the events of Brexit like any other news story. Brexit is also a substantially vast and complex issue, and it is not as straightforward as it seems; the fan favourite, Jeremy Corbyn, has stated he would, again, vote Remain in a second referendum, but many might not know that Corbyn has usually held anti-European views in his political past. Thus, it is crucial that us, as students, we draw upon the full picture, and make sure that our voices are heard by all. We voted for you, Corbyn, now you give us something back.

What is particularly worrying is that I am certain that the vast population do not know that Theresa May and her Conservative government are holding back vital reports that present the economic impact of Brexit. Economists and businesses have generally concluded that Brexit, however hard or soft, will be bad for trade. This undemocratic decision to hold back crucial information on the future of the UK must be released, as students and the rest of the population should know if Brexit will hamper their future.

There is very little time remaining. I urge the youth of Britain to take a little more time and interest in the remaining days we have left in the EU. An anti-Brexit wave is about to hit the UK, but only if the youth of today place themselves at the heart of the revolution.

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