Theresa May’s legacy is to have destroyed the hopes of my generation

Mired in a Brexit that will have a terrible impact on young people’s chances, the PM achieved nothing else for us either

Hugo Lucas
Friday 24 May 2019 12:26
Theresa May: Highs and lows as Prime Minister

At all points, Theresa May failed young people in this country.

Looking at the problems that afflict my generation, they have either emerged or been amplified under her government.

She promised, after the terrible General Election campaign in 2017, that her administration would have a plan so that the next generation would have it better than the last. Not a single piece of evidence exists to justify that this plan either existed, or – if it did – was taken seriously.

But it’s not just young people born or brought up in this country that she’s failed.

Look to the young EU citizens, like Alexandra Bulat (chair of Young Europeans at the 3 million), a Romanian PhD student who has lived here since 2013, being told to “vote in her own country” during the EU elections yesterday. Look to the thousands of refugee children who were denied their rightful entry – under the Dubs Amendment – to the UK, a chance to escape the slow horror of the Calais and Dunkirk refugee camps.

When those camps were cleared, or burned down, hundreds if not thousands of those children went missing, at the mercy of traffickers and predators. Her invocation in her resignation speech of Nicholas Winton, the hero of the Kindertransport, rings hollow when you remember her persistent attitude towards immigration and those seeking asylum. “Citizens of nowhere”. “Jumping the queue”. The Windrush scandal.

For my generation, which is broadly so positive towards immigration, this (soon to be ex-) Prime Minister has utterly failed to represent us. And referencing the Grenfell Tower disaster in her speech too, when there are still victims without permanent housing, is inexplicable.

There is significant evidence, published by my organisation, and based on the government’s own figures, that any Brexit leaves my generation worse off.

The Brexit deal she negotiated, which was rejected by the House of Commons in successive historic defeats, made only the most passing mention of young people, in the non-binding Political Declaration, and even then only in the context of Erasmus programmes for students.

And ultimately, her inability to get anything done outside of the Brexit wrangling has left my generation not just by the wayside, but face down in a ditch.

Soaring rates of knife crime, amplified by austerity – which was, as is now becoming clearer, a political choice, not a necessity – have left inner-city children at the mercy of random stabbings.

A mental health crisis, the response to which was to appoint a minister without a budget has left young people burdened and bereft.

We have a huge democratic deficit, in which young people feel, justifiably, that their votes don’t matter and that their concerns aren’t heard.

These realities will form, in the minds and memories of my generation, the legacy of Theresa May.

But the future may be yet worse. The favourite to replace her as leader of the Conservatives is Boris Johnson. The Institute for Government has published a report that indicates it may not be possible for Parliament to block a Prime Minister intent on leaving the EU without a deal.

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That could cost my generation more than £100,000 in lost earnings by 2050. So much for burning injustices.

Hugo Lucas is Director of Communications at Our Future, Our Choice

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