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I'm 14 years old and Brexit is already affecting my life. Why won't people listen to me?

They think that we don't understand, and that it'll only hit us when it's older – that's not true

Scarlett Westbrook@scarlettowest
Friday 21 December 2018 16:36
comments

My name is Scarlett, I’m 14 years old and I want someone to listen to me when I talk about Brexit.

I’m currently the youngest person in the world to have an A-level in government and politics. In June, when I was 13 I sat the four exams, completing the course in seven months due to the new education changes.

I had to teach myself the course as I couldn’t find a tutor. I printed off articles from the internet to read and annotate in order to keep myself informed on current affairs.

I started off thinking that maybe this A-level would mean I’d have more of a voice, that people would listen to me as I’d have a qualification. I know that an A-level doesn't have the status of a degree, but nevertheless I clung to the naive hope that people would listen.

I have a blog where I sometimes write on politics and I’m always met with: “Brexit is good!!! You’re too young to know that we need to be sovereign!!! Make Britain great again!!!”

It’s frustrating.

Because I want to talk about my views. Just once. The under-18 population is ridiculously underrepresented when it comes to politics. It can be argued that we have the Youth Parliament, but honestly? Put bluntly, they debate once a year and don’t do much at all. There’s not many Youth MPs either. Additionally, most “young people’s groups” which focused around the EU and Brexit are targeted towards people who are 18 to 25 years old.

Brexit protesters shout traitor and Hitler jibes at Anna Soubry as she walks down street

In the media, we constantly hear people say that the older generation has failed mine. That they’ve ripped away opportunities from us.

It’s true.

But they think that we don’t understand, that it’ll hit us when we’re older and not now.

That’s not so true.

I spent a year waking up between 3.30 and 4.30am so I could revise Politics before school. Every day. I can quote John Stuart Mill or Jeremy Bentham backwards. In my sleep.

I understand the Irish backstop, unlike many adults. My GCSE Spoken Language was a six-minute speech on it – not much, granted, but I could talk for hours about Northern Ireland. We need to keep the peace that the open border allows. We need to protect the Good Friday Agreement. There’s only been peace for 20 years and we simply can’t undermine that by hardening the Irish border.

If an agreement cannot be reached, then that will affect us all. We could be left with no deal, which would entail food shortages, medicine shortages and losing all the perks of the EU.

This isn’t a small problem and the solution won’t be small either. Whatever happens, we will all feel the effects. Whether you call it (or believe it to be) Northern Ireland or the North of Ireland, this small country shapes our lives in more ways than we could ever imagine. We’ve only had peace for 20 years, after all.

People are so hung up on sovereignty that they are forgetting what really should be our priority. Our priority, above all, should be to maintain peace and a lot of people in Northern Ireland agree. We need a backstop to ensure this, or ideally, the referendum should be declared void or rerun as the lies told and electoral laws broken by Vote Leave should deem it as not in accordance with the European Union Referendum Act.

You see, the older generation has failed us with the Brexit vote. But by refusing to listen to what we have to say, by ignoring us and undermining us, they have failed us a second time.

I’m sick of people speaking for my age group.

Teenagers are becoming extremely apathetic, because adults don't care what we think. We’re the smallest part of the population, but we’ll grow up to be the majority. The way things are looking, in 20 years turnout and participation will plummet and we'll have more instability and volatility than ever before.

MPs are supposed to represent all their constituents, not just the electorate, but I never see that happen in reality. I’ve written to my MP. He hasn’t written back.

Brexit is disastrous for our country and disastrous for my generation.

It’s cutting off our opportunities, our freedom, our lives as we know them. And it’s cutting off our chance to have a voice. All because we don't have the right to vote. Yet, those with the franchise continue to misuse it by lying, cheating, abstaining, committing fraud.... The list goes on.

Why will nobody listen when we say this isn’t the future we want for our country?

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