I Can No Longer Sit By As Brexit Jeopardises My Generation's Future

For the first time I find myself afraid for my future – and when you're scared you can either run away or you can fight for what you believe
Sam Mellish via Getty Images

I can no longer sit and do nothing. Though I’ve voted in every election that I’ve been able to, until very recently I’ve been quite content to keep politics at arm’s length. Our political system has always seemed beyond my reach. Politicians don’t target young people, and so young people are less engaged. And the cycle repeats.

Brexit has changed everything. For the first time I find myself afraid for my future. I see it as so much more than a simple sequence of events. I see my future, and the futures of my friends, family, and country as interlinked - not isolated. I see our futures as part of something bigger. When you are faced with something that scares you, there are two choices; you can run away and hide, or you can stand and fight for what you believe in.

I didn’t expect the country to vote to leave the EU. Almost no-one did. I understand and accept that most leave supporters voted with good, honest intentions; with the genuine belief that their decision would be best for the UK. However, I struggle to believe that everyone who voted to leave knew exactly what they wanted out of Brexit. I’m even more sceptical that they all believed in the same Brexit.

During the campaign we were told that we could follow the Norwegian model, the Swiss model, or some form of the Canada+ model. We were told that we could remain in the single market. We were told that we could spend an additional £350million per week on the NHS. Yet the reality of Brexit, after two years of negotiations with the EU, looks completely different. The deal agreed by Theresa May actively leaves the UK with less control, no extra money for the NHS, and a Northern Irish backstop that wasn’t even mentioned during the campaign.

Theresa May’s deal doesn’t deliver upon what was promised. But broken promises notwithstanding, there is no other deal on the table: this is the best we’ve got. In such a case, with Brexit having far reaching and long-lasting consequences, the British people should be consulted, to ensure they still believe that leaving the EU is the best course for the country. A People’s Vote, by its very nature, cannot be undemocratic. This would not be a case of rerunning the first referendum (and the country agrees on this), but an opportunity to vote between two absolutes: we either leave with the PM’s deal, or we retain our current benefits as a member of the EU.

The events of the last week further cemented the need for a new referendum. Whilst a People’s Vote has been voted down in the first instance, there is no way to resolve Brexit without it. The Prime Minister’s deal commands no majority in parliament, No Deal has been roundly rejected, and there is no consensus for any alternative deal – despite repeated claims from the Labour front bench. Bercow’s statement on Monday made clear that there would be no further votes on this deal without substantive changes being made to it. These show no signs of appearing, leaving us hurtling towards the 29th with no deal, and no plan for getting one. We are, once more, in gridlock. Quite simply, if parliament cannot arrive at a decision, the only responsible way forward is to put it to the people. A People’s Vote represents not a Brexit option, but a solution.

I hope that leave voters can recognise and appreciate this position. We know so much more now than in 2016, not only about our country, but about the problems that we are going to face in the coming years, such as climate change, antibiotic resistance, and rising inequality. These will not be limited by geography. We need to work more closely with the global community, not isolate ourselves in the North Sea, falling back on trade deals with Switzerland and the Faroe Islands.

The future is concerning: but for the first time it is exciting to have found a cause that has truly engaged me with politics. Similarly, all over the country, other young people are going through the same thought processes and arriving at the same conclusions. We have been underrepresented for too long, but things are changing. We are on the television, we are in newspapers, we are all over the internet. We are being heard.

I was one of the 700,000 people who marched through London in October. I have travelled down to Parliament to lobby my MP with Our Future, Our Choice. I will be marching again this Saturday. I can no longer sit and do nothing, and neither can the millions of other young people. This is our future - will you fight for it?


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