I’m President of Roehampton University Students’ Union. That means I have the privilege of representing the 9,000 Roehampton students on any and all issues which may impact them. Contact time with lecturers, the cost of living and student mental health are just some of the issues which regularly come up in the conversations with students that we represent.
But at Roehampton Students’ Union, we’re clear; one of the biggest, if not the biggest issue that impacts our members today is Brexit. From student mobility, the future economy, peace in Northern Ireland to the security of students and staff living in the UK today – Brexit is obviously a big deal, and it’s definitely not a done deal.
That’s why we welcome Greening’s brave support for the People’s Vote campaign over the last 24 hours. Justine is our local MP and represents the same students that we do. Roehampton Students’ Union is one of dozens across the United Kingdom – as well as the National Union of Students – who have come out in support of a people’s vote. Supported by the youth and student-led campaign For Our Future’s Sake, we’re changing the debate on Brexit by putting young people first.
We’ve discussed the people’s vote campaign with Justine before, and she’ll have made this announcement knowing that she is on the right side of her young constituents. Around 70% of people under the age of 25 voted remain in 2016, with the 1.4million young people who have turned 18 since supporting the European Union in higher numbers. Students overwhelmingly support a people’s vote on the final Brexit deal – and for good reason – we have the most to lose for the longest.
Aside from the headline issues, students are often dumbfounded when I speak to them about the far-reaching implications of Brexit. The future of studying abroad under Erasmus plus is still uncertain. The cost of Sports Tour (which tens of thousands of students going abroad every year) set to increase. Even Jailbreak, a student-led fundraising initiative that raises hundreds of thousands of pounds every year, could be under threat.
And if you say “well, you can’t know that for certain” – you’re right, I can’t, because the government doesn’t either. But that’s simply an indictment on the sorry state of affairs students and young people find themselves in. Over two years since the referendum in 2016, and students still have no clue as to the most fundamental and basic ways in which Brexit will impact us. That’s not our fault, that’s the government’s.
Greening summed it up in her interview with BBC News when she said “parliament is deadlocked”. The government are in chaos, and Labour are unwilling or unable to stop the biggest hit to young and working class people we need to be able to decide, as a country. In particular, for the millions of young people who, by a quirk of parliamentary arithmetic, didn’t get their say last time.
That why I’m proud that Roehampton Students’ Union back a people’s vote on the final Brexit deal, and my local Member of Parliament does as well.
Chuchu Nwagu is President of Roehampton Students’ Union, and a supporter of For Our Future’s Sake – a youth and student-led campaign calling for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit Deal