The over-fifties have gambled away my generation’s future. This cannot be allowed to stand

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Sunday 26 June 2016 19:16
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Young people, the vast majority of whom voted Remain, protest the referendum result on Saturday
Young people, the vast majority of whom voted Remain, protest the referendum result on Saturday

On 23 June the over-50s voted to take away our generation's EU citizenship. This was a decision that was opposed by the majority of people under 50 and the vast majority of those under 25.

Their decision will strip us of the benefits they have enjoyed throughout their lives: the ability to work and travel freely across the continent, the prosperity that came with the common market and the EU's legal protection against any government that wants to reduce or remove equal treatment for men and women, maternity and paternity leave, protection against discrimination based on sex, race, religion, age, disability and sexual orientation, health and safety standards at work, and so on.

This is not the first time our generation has suffered this kind of treatment. The baby boomers subsidised their lives with massive public borrowing, then voted for austerity; they enjoyed final salary pension schemes, then abolished them; they enjoyed free university education, then voted to abolish that too; they enjoyed public utilities, then sold them off; and now, after enjoying a lifetime of EU citizenship, they've voted to take it away from us not even to save money, but simply to give them a nationalistic thrill. Enough is enough!

The result of this referendum, even if you ignore the mountain of lies with which it was won, has no legitimacy for the generation it primarily effects. It constitutes a technically democratic, but unjust and immoral assault on our most valuable rights. People have gone on strike for far less and when one powerful group of voters uses democracy to so consistently and mercilessly bully another, it may be time to consider such extreme measure.

Philip Bronk

London SE8

As a 17-year-old who is very angry about Friday’s result, I read your article on young people and the EU referendum with interest ("Millennials will see two recessions before the age of 30. Brexit is turning a clash of generations into a crisis", Voices, Friday). I entirely agree with the views expressed in the article that we have been dealt a raw deal by older people who will be less affected by the decision than we will be. This decision will have a huge impact on the rest of my life and having studied politics and economics I am perfectly capable of understanding the arguments, and I feel it would be entirely wrong for this country to be taken out of the European Union when the views of 16- and 17-year-olds were excluded from the debate.

I am sorry to say that despite agreeing wholeheartedly with the overall view of the article, I’m afraid your statistics oversimplify the impact that our participation would have had. I had done the maths myself before reading the article and come to the conclusion that the participation of 16- and 17-year-olds would have added 860,000 votes to remain and 190,000 for Brexit. This is assuming 72 per cent turnout (lower than a recent Student Room poll which suggested it would have been 75 per cent among 16- and 17-year-olds) and 82 per cent of these voting Remain, as in the article. This would have made the result much closer although Brexit would still have won by 600,000 votes.

However, I would also question the legitimacy of such a monumental decision being made on such a small majority, and on such speculative reasoning. There were criticisms of both sides during the campaign for using spurious statistics and I think the leave campaign’s immediate backtracking over promises on NHS funding and immigration indicate the enormous lack of clarity on what an independent UK would actually look like.

I think it’s really important that the referendums are advisory and therefore the possibility of a second referendum after negotiations should not be ruled out. On a tiny margin that could easily have been different especially if 16- and 17-year-olds had been allowed to participate, and I suspect that many Brexit voters may change their minds once they realise that much of the "scaremongering" of the Remain campaign was not an exaggeration.

Personally I believe that on an issue as important as the EU, such a small majority result on either side should lead to further discussion and democratic engagement. A large change to our constitution should only be done with a significant majority and following proper, well informed discussion and debate.

Emily Nethsingha

Cambridge

Why did Boris look like he had lost when he had won?

The bedside radio told me the vote was in. Brexit! I was shocked. Downstairs I turned on the TV and was even more shocked. There was Boris. He looked shell-shocked. He looked as if a great burden was now upon his shoulders. He looked as if he had lost. Could it be that he really wished for us to Remain and had led the Leave campaign merely to increase his chance of becoming Prime Minister?

David Rose

Birmingham

Only Corbyn spoke the truth as he saw it

Now we look forward to the recriminations and struggle for power. Cameron never wanted a referendum; he called on only to ward off Ukip. He expected the Lib Dems to be in coalition and to stop him, but then the Tories successfully targeted Lib Dem seats in the election, and his safety valve was gone.

He is now left with the break-up of the kingdom: Scotland off, Northern Ireland to rejoin the south and the Spanish eyeing up Gibraltar. What a legacy!

Then and completely unbelievably the Blairites go for Corbyn, the only man who spoke honestly as he saw, something they find abhorrent apparently. I am no socialist nor am I Labour, but the man is impressive and different; he is right over austerity, right on the Middle East, right on the refugees, right on immigration and was right on the EU. All issues against the grain.

If he followed John McDonnell and called for proper PR, I think we could see real change, not least the dismissal of the Blairites in Parliament.

Peter Downey

Bath

So Britain now loses Europe on the playing fields of Eton, where it once supposedly won the battle of Waterloo. What abject servility lets a people, in this century, put its destiny into play as the rivalry of a pair of old school-fellows from an elite fraternity?

Michael J Sidnell

Toronto, Canada

It was momentarily comforting to sign the petition for another referendum, though I’d no expectation of its doing more than underlining the state of play following last Thursday’s event. Inners are devastated but helpless at the destruction of a union that stood for ideals of peace and prosperity, however fallibly it put them into practice, while Outers feel they have told the "experts" and "elites" what they think of them, and demanded to be given more consideration in future.

Until a political response crystallises, we can only hope and speculate about that future. For example, after the Civil Service cuts of recent years, have we sufficient high-calibre experts to navigate the choppy European waters in the short term, let alone keep us afloat in the maelstrom of global technological change in the long term?

Incidentally, since the post-referendum heart-searching began, I have been even more irritated than before by the arrogant "London is another – ie, more important –country" assumption. Out-voting interviewees have been saying, “We’re not morons, you know” and, as a "disconnected" provincial In-voter who has led a relatively cosmopolitan life, I know how they feel.

Jenny Brown

Warwickshire

Leave voters wrongly blamed the EU for Westminster failings

I believe that many Brexiteers voted as a protest at the neglect by politicians they have suffered in recent decades. Unfortunately their woes are not the result of membership of the EU, but of the political choices made by their representatives in Westminster and that therefore their vote was made on the wrong premise.

It now appears that the Brexiteers have no detailed pre-planned ideas for a new relationship with the EU, to say nothing of the retraction of many of the statements they made during the campaign about resulting benefits.

Is it too much to hope for that when a plan is conceived, our MPs should consult with their constituents about each proposed element to dispel the sense of disconnection, powerlessness and consequent disinterest in politics which pervades our country today?

To have the maximum acquiescence the plan should be formulated by those on both sides of the argument, recognising that this is likely to form mainly an economic and security framework. Our wide internal social and economic disparities need to be addressed separately and urgently with solutions not seen through the lens of party ideologies.

As the exit process advances, I think it will become evident that the country should hold a general election not least because the two main parties will likely look very different from now by the end of this year.

John Mayhew

London N21

It took Gorbachev and Yeltsin six years to bring down the USSR – will it take Cameron and Johnson only half a year to bring down the UK? What a fine mess they have brought you into!

Anders Persson

Uppsala, Sweden

Whiners need to accept the democratic result

In the wake of the fallout over the surprise referendum decision, the naysayers seem to be losing no time in mustering the troops to discredit the outcome, and looking for someone, anyone, to blame. I suspect the bitter taste of sour grapes tainting their pursed lips will take some time to sweeten, if ever.

Being childless and of pensionable age, it is apparently all my fault for having gone about my business, working hard, paying my taxes and selfishly giving scant thought to the next generation. I dispute this. Certainly the first-time voters in my Somerset village all seemed to vote for Brexit. Interestingly, they are among those unlikely to go on to higher education, leaving me to suspect that it may well be the educated chattering classes who have had their noses so severely put out of joint. I wonder how many also had a personal or financial interest in the outcome.

It is the arrogant, righteous attitude of many who wished us to remain tied to Europe, that seems to have caused so many of those who would never normally darken the doors of a polling station, to vote in numbers sufficient to affect the outcome. I am thrilled that they turned out, for a change, but I strongly suspect it was for all the wrong reasons. However, turn out they did, and got the result they desired.

Although we are, apparently, living in a democracy, those who did not see the vote go their way have jumped onto the derogatory band wagon, even going so far as to demand another referendum, which is quite blatantly nonsense. We all have to tolerate decisions we are less than enthusiastic about. Rather than harp on about the irrational, ignorant behaviour of the public at large, we must get on with living our lives to the best of our ability under new circumstances.

I am fortunate enough to own a property in France, and travel to Europe often. I am sure advantages I have so far enjoyed will change, and not necessarily to my benefit. We live in a constantly changing world, and very often the decisions we make can have unintended consequences.

One bright spot occurred within hours of the result being announced. In a conversation overheard in a local hardware store, the customer wanted a lightbulb. On expressing dismay at the paucity of choice available, the salesperson responded with, “Now we are out of Europe you might be able to buy a real lightbulb soon.”

Linda Piggott-Vijeh

Somerset

In light of the just broadcast clarification by Ms Sturgeon of Scotland's position, the only honourable thing for England to do to avoid huge damage to her nearest and dearest neighbour, if still wishing to pursue Brexit, is first to secede from the UK. Prior to any secession or UK split we need a general election to gain the people's consent.

Jonathan Reeve

Melbourn, Cambridgeshire

We need a war-footing coalition to lead us out of this

With the exception of Ukip, finding a solution to the present crisis is not a party political matter. What is required is a war-footing coalition. I suggest Theresa May, Tim Farron, Hilary Benn and Caroline Lucas are the people to head it up. It will have the single aim of halting any move towards Brexit. Once achieved, the coalition would dissolve in order for a party political general election to take place. Whoever wins that election must immediately address the deep dissatisfaction that produced the recent 52 per cent majority.

Patrick Cosgrove

Bucknell, Shropshire

I remember during the very low quality EU referendum debates that Nigel Farage said that if the final result was within 4 per cent then he would call for a second referendum. Please would you challenge him to keep this promise?

Ian Hanson

Malaga, Spain

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