There are a number of myths surrounding the young, most often and in particular promoted by politicians, who are very fond of saying ‘young people’ whenever they make a statement about anything.
In the case of Brexit this becomes even more noticeable when listening to some of them as well as watching the BBC, who seem to believe that everybody under a certain age either voted to stay in the EU or, if they were too young to vote at the time, would vote to remain in a second referendum. Since I won’t be seventeen until mid-2019 then my age qualifies me as young and when the referendum took place I was, obviously, still at secondary school. Even now I am only one step up from there, in further education at college – but had I been able to vote in 2016 I would have voted the same way as I would now. I’m still too young as it happens and won’t be able to vote until after my eighteenth birthday, which means the second half of 2020. That also means that I will not be able to vote in the next general election if held in the usual month of May (or one held earlier because of the government’s problems now) but my opinion is the same; I want the UK to leave the EU - and I am not the only teenager or young person who thinks so.
There are many young people just like me who want the UK to leave and we believe we will prosper outside the straightjacket of the EU.
Although we might not be experts, some of us also know at least a little about our history as a country and we know of the generations that fought and died for freedom in World War II. The enemy in Europe then was Germany but it was a very different country to the one that exists today. In that war, Germany was led by the National Socialist Workers party, or to use its shortened name, the Nazis (the name ‘Nazi’ came from the German language pronunciation of ‘National’).
Even though the Nazis came to power by winning an election, it quickly turned into a dictatorship and Germany became a one-party state with what amounted to an unelected government, using fear and oppression as its weapons against the people. The aim of the Nazis was a Europe dominated and ruled by them yet now, over seventy years after the Nazis were defeated and the war ended, Europe has turned into a continent that is ruled by what is the equivalent of another unelected dictatorship – the European Union.
So what if there was to be a second referendum? Apart from not being able to vote because I am still too young, I don’t believe that it would result in the big change to a remain result that some are saying it would. Many people of my age and including those a little older – who could vote – want the UK to just get on with it and leave the EU.
Politicians, even if they do keep saying ‘young people’, aren’t listening to us. And campaigning in my local area I am doing just that - listening to people, of all ages, and I hear the same message; get Brexit done and many people want a ‘no-deal’ result. At the moment there are large numbers of people feeling betrayed both by Prime Minister Theresa May and her government along with the Labour party, led by Jeremy Corbyn.
It’s absurd to think that after two and half years since the referendum we seem to have got nowhere.
Not only that but one of the most annoying things about politics and politicians, as I said above, is the way that 'young people' get talked about as though we are one massive single group, as though we don’t think differently, have different concerns, different opinions, hopes and dreams. As an article in the Guardian newspaper pointed out, not all of us like Ed Sheeran, not all young people go to university and not all of us either voted for or would vote Remain.
The result of the referendum in 2016 was that the UK voted to leave the EU by 51.9% to 48.1%. It might not be a big majority but it is still a majority. We hear a lot about how ‘young people want to stay in the EU’ and of course many do, just like many older people do, but even though the turnout was the biggest in recent electoral history, the truth is that not everyone eligible to vote showed up on the day in 2016.
It’s probably fair to say that significant numbers of young people do want to stay in the EU but it is still a myth that all young people are remainers. They are not. I’m a prominent leaver and have spoken with many people, both older and younger, and most want the UK to leave.
It is not the idea of free trade that is the problem. It is what the EU has become that is not for us.
© Lee Sibley 2018.
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