THE BLOG
02/01/2018 13:05 GMT | Updated 02/01/2018 13:05 GMT

A Millennial View: Brexit Has Caused An Identity Crisis

For baby boomers and Generation X, choosing to leave the European Union was a subconscious identity crave fuelled by a misplaced sense of patriotism that has had its definition distorted with each fleeting moment.

David Holt / Flickr - (C) Attribution 2.0 Generic
People's March For Europe - London September 9 2017

The intention behind restoring the ‘good old times’ latched on to older voters and drained them of all sensibility.

The strange phenomenon that is patriotism (whatever that means) taps into the lust for how things used to be. It’s a nostalgic feeling that cannot co-exist with modern progress.

The European Union retains its flaws – that might be the federalised nature of the institution or the unelected representatives at the top – but it’s plagued by an ideological strive for a United States of Europe. This is something I fundamentally clash with. [1]

Established consensus around British character will invariably appear above and beyond European identity for Leave voters, principally those on the right of the political spectrum.

Nostalgia is something we’re all familiar with. I have it when watching cartoons from when I was a child! However, when connected with politics, it forces us all into a tense battle over what the country used to look like, and that’s dangerous.

One perfect illustration of this thinking is the blue passports. With freedom of movement and our current EU passports, we’re open to travel and work in any EU state, but we will lose this right when we get the ‘iconic’ blue passports back. Blue passports offer us nothing, whereas the EU passport provides us with more benefits. Older generations seem to fancy this, just because it sustains their interpretation of their identity. There’s a refusal among older Leave voters to adapt how they look at themselves.

There’s likewise the dispute over whether our parliament is sovereign. It is, but that it should be superior over our European counterpart is already again embedded in the demand to be British before European. The absence of proportional representation in our elections is one of the many reasons it sounds like we have no authority over our laws. If we had proportional representation, it’s Remain that would have won the Brexit referendum. 75% of young voters aged 18-24 in the UK voted to remain in the EU – that’s a strong number – and we feel like we’re being neglected. Whether it’s the Conservatives’ tainted ambition for a hard Brexit or Labour failing to prevent it, effectively there isn’t any alternative choices for most young people under our present election laws.

A prospective future where free movement is inhibited and an irrational rise in prejudice is alarming and upsetting. Our security and rights are at risk because of a protest vote against the establishment. 16-17 year-olds weren’t asked their judgment on such a vital issue that will influence them for the rest of their lives and with the effects of the recession and extortionate tuition fees, they won’t receive the rewards other generations have had.

Many people my age are no longer naming themselves as British – they don’t think of themselves in this respect because it’s identified with the right-wing values connected to it – instead we regard ourselves as citizens of the world because that’s all that genuinely matters. Global cooperation is key to the prosperity of all of humanity. Of course, some young people will not agree with this because of their attachment to family who disagree with this thinking.

An emphasis on local communities and global cooperation can be driven by young people, whereas baby boomers and Generation X will constantly adhere to abstract notions around British identity.

[1] Ideologically on the left the design of continental unions is not inviting. However, in this ongoing era progressive leave voters are simply providing ammunition to right-wing populism. An approach known as ‘Overtone Window’ comes to mind.