Jacob F. Farr
Naked Politics Blogger
As Brexit looms ever closer there is a feeling of confusion and disillusionment among young people today. The reason for this is not that we’re spitting out our dummy based on a result of an election that we didn’t take part in. Instead it is a rational reaction to a monumental event that will no doubt impact the lives of young people in the UK far longer than it will the middle aged and above.
According to a study conducted by LSE, 64% of 18-24 year olds and 65% of 25-39 year olds voted in the Brexit referendum, with the 18-24’s voting 71% remain as well as 62% of the 25-39’s for remain.
It is impossible to be able to work out where we will stand. After all, the impacts can only truly be tested after we know what sort of deal we have. The House of Lords as well as multiple other institutions conducted financial experiments that state we will be a lot worse off after Brexit. Our economy will shrink, our industries curtailed and housing markets as well as job markets will be in decline. This is just common sense when leaving one of the largest trade blocks in the world.
Besides the economy there is another important question to be asked. How will our society be impacted in the future by either leaving or remaining in the EU?
As a graduate from the UK’s European University, I am well aware of the benefits that we may lose upon leaving the union: freedom of movement, the loss of Erasmus funding, arts funding, quick and easy holidays, health care cover and labour rights currently under threat from our domestic government. It is well noted that in recent years the EU has been a beacon in furthering equality and human rights in the workplace and society. Our environment is something that has been relatively well protected through EU initiatives. Erasmus is such a powerful tool to be able to grow as a young person and mature. The easy travel and health care cover could be snatched from a generation. There is obvious reason to be concerned for losing the benefits listed above.
Young people rarely talk about making a success of Brexit. It is widely accepted that we are a social-democratically inclined group; we are more likely to get behind causes like Corbyn or Bernie Sanders- not Leave.eu. The LSE study concluded that all we have known has been globalisation and we do not remember a Britain stood on its own two feet. It was also found that there is a clear undercurrent of distrust with the establishment, whether that be politicians or bankers etc within youth groups.
You can then be forgiven for wondering why there has not been a more coherent case for youth Brexit- after all the establishment was remain. Having the opportunity to live in cities with cheap rent, cheap tuition and an open labour market have come at the cost of a cohesive social-democratic society. Take Greece for instance, it is a perfect example of the impact of a disregard for democracy and sovereignty shown by the EU in recent years. Keynesian politics has all but become illegal through the EU as the European Central Bank chooses deflation over growth. Labour laws are being challenged by the ECJ detailing that a workers right to strike is subordinate to the employers right to conduct business freely. When the EU power structure is dissected you realise that Juncker is appointed not directly elected; the parliament is not a legislature; and the commission is accountable to no sovereign citizens and is rightly accused of being proud of such a thing. Juncker’s deputy stated himself after Syriza’s victory in 2015 “We don’t change our position according to elections.”
Looking at the secretive TTIP negotiations that was conducted in extreme privacy with the US and saw the EU prepared to sell our freedoms to the highest bidder. This would have given corporations the power to sue governments for any policies that may impact their profits. Everything was under threat of deregulation; that is our environment, food and safety, pharmaceutical and health care standards would have been impacted.
With membership of the EU it appears as though more and more, democracy cannot interfere with the market. By leaving the EU we have been taken hostage by hard line Brexiteers wanting to rid our society of all the great things that the EU brings. As the youth of today we will no doubt be impacted negatively either way.
However, we can reclaim the future as our own. What became abundantly clear by reading the study on youth opinion towards the impact of Brexit was that young people had now been awoken from their slumber. We all have come to see the importance of our participation in the democratic process. There is a unifying distrust for the establishment, and the impact of Brexit can be controlled so long as we evolve that distrust into action of our own.
As a generation we are extremely negative about the prospects for the future, but we have the ability to uphold and ensure our society is not impacted by an anti-social democratic charge both at home and abroad. The only question to remain, both from this article and the LSE study is, will the older generation take us seriously enough to do so?