It’s been 938 days since the UK electorate voted on our membership of the European Union and ever since young people voices have been missing from public debate and negotiations. It is evident that young people are the key to an outward looking, prosperous and welcoming country and yet their concerns continue to be ignored.
The British Youth Council have been arguing for young people to be brought round the table so their futures are taken into account moving forward. Young people want their safety to be a priority, their mental health and wellbeing to be taken seriously, and they want intergenerational fairness to be addressed and not overlooked. We cannot continue to disregard the unequal conditions young people are facing and we could start by addressing their unequal pay.
We could, of course, talk about the issues young people have prioritised repeatedly but we know that can only be effective if those conversations are being listened to and acted upon. The decisions facing our country over the coming weeks and months will affect our country for generations and we feel that can’t be taken lightly.
Politicians really must make time to engage with young people during this period of uncertainty, not just because it’s the right thing to do but because they have a duty to do so.
Decision makers should start by addressing the fact 16- and 17-year-olds, who live, go to work and go to college in UK will be denied a vote in any snap election or in the event of a People’s Vote. An issue we should have settled a long time ago but continues to be ignored.
It’s also important we recognise, more than 1.4million additional young people could vote in new Brexit referendum. Many of these young people should have been eligible to vote in 2016.
That is one of the many reasons we’re calling on the government to deliver a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal. Young people deserve the opportunity to have a clear say on something that will have such a profound impact on our country.
It seems clear that the political solution to the vote for Brexit is not simple but we must, at the very least, involve young people and let them talk for themselves.
Larissa Kennedy is education officer at Warwick University and trustee of the British Youth Council