Like most young people, I voted against Brexit – and I know that Theresa May didn't betray us, our parents did

Young people overwhelmingly voted for a practical, sensible option. The older generation showed themselves to be gullible and naive

Selena Drake
Sunday 15 January 2017 13:25
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People protest on Parliament Square after the EU referendum
People protest on Parliament Square after the EU referendum

A student does not need to be remotely engaged in politics to be scared right now. As we recklessly march towards Brexit, anxiety is building among even those who strive not to read the news. Because students like me are the people who will bear the brunt of a hard Brexit – and we didn’t even vote for it in the first place.

Of those who voted within the ages of 18-24, 75 per cent voted to remain in the EU. Statistically, older generations have voted against us and now we will be punished for their lack of solidarity. Our cause is simple; it is not an ideological one – we just want a good chance of getting a job after graduation. We were voting for the future, and the older generations who dragged us into Brexit were voting for a rose-tinted view of the past.

It is hard to ignore just how many companies are based in other European countries – and, consequently, how many jobs could be pulled out of Britain post-Brexit. The student population is often depicted as a group of stereotypical idealists, starry-eyed quasi-adults who believe that they can change society and rid it of its wrongs. But this time round, we’re the ones who have fallen victim to ideas that don’t make any sense – and won’t bear out well in reality.

Young people overwhelmingly voted for the practical option – we voted not to risk damaging our economy and to remain united with other European countries in case we are ever in need of their financial or military aid. Brexit showed the older generations to be much more naive. Even now, so many months later, I cannot begin to fathom why so many young people’s parents voted to reduce their children’s chances of finding a job and having a secure future.

The old statistic about taking billions from the EU and giving it to the NHS has long been exposed as a lie. It was also argued that, if we left the EU, fewer immigrants would come into the country and “take our jobs”. Now our jobs will be taken away from us anyway as a result of leaving the EU, and we’ve proven ourselves to be a nation of xenophobes in the process. It’s hard to feel proud to be British in that political context.

Theresa May is not the problem; the problem is to be found much closer to home. Our parents and grandparents are the ones who voted against us and our futures in a naive and gullible belief that breaking away from the concepts of solidarity and unity could actually be a good thing.

They thought that the EU, formed in a very different context following the Second World War, would no longer be necessary in our global climate, despite the fact that we are facing the biggest refugee crisis since that time. And they forgot that we are living in an age where terrorism poses a major threat – terrorism which is so often driven by isolation and the politics of fear.

So yes, as a student and a young person about to embark upon adulthood, I am scared about the impact of Brexit. And forgive me for my pessimism, but I really don’t believe that anything Theresa May has to say on Tuesday will make me feel any better about it.

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