While Brexit is continuing to be a very controversial topic, splitting the nation 51.8% leave to 48.11% remain, this figure is representative of the 18+ society, so what does Britain’s youth typically think of Brexit?
While you, as a reader, may have your own opinions, however strong they are, typically, in the younger demographic, studies show Brexit is not well received. After an LSE survey, it was found that under 18’s felt “deprived of a voice and if they could have voted they would have said remain”. A common fear was found in these studies about the reduction of educational benefits and an uncertainty of their future. Youth nowadays are not educated in schools to the degree they should be on the political environment, this is not a statement for discussion, it is a fact. When asking a student about her opinion on the issue I received a shrug of the shoulders and “I don’t know enough about it” which encapsulates just my point. This conclusion on the vote to leave will heavily affect our generation yet we have not been educated on this matter, the same student agreed that if they had the chance to vote on the matter they would have educated themselves, but because we did not have this opportunity it has almost been pushed to the side in terms of youth education on Brexit, despite it being a prominent issue that will affect nearly every aspect of our lives. We are in full time education therefore it is the school’s responsibility to give us a well-rounded education, including matters like this, even if many young people did have a strong opinion on Brexit, it would be ridiculously hard to research given the propaganda flying about left, right and centre.
My point here is, if we had been given the chance to vote the outcome may have been different. With young people admitting they would have educated themselves more if it had been something they were forced to consider, this is why I believe we are the silenced generation in more ways than one. School teaches us to a curriculum, not giving us a way to decipher general complications, such as Brexit, that influence everyday life; this ultimately defeats the object of an ‘education’. I, like may others, will finish high school and possibly even a degree being taught to an exam board but not receiving an all rounded education on this issue. While it may be my responsibility to educate myself, as shown people don’t, at this moment in time they have not had the chance to vote therefore it “does not affect” them. Some may call this ignorance but at the age of 16 and 17, just a year or two off the voting age, the majority of youth would argue, what’s the point? Even if they did educate themselves what can they do about it, with more pressing issues at the time to them, such as A-levels and university, researching an issue they can’t change the outcome of is insignificant. While an older audience reading this may say this is the wrong mind-set, it is what is going on, and being in full-time education along with other hobbies and commitments does not give the average 16/17 year old a lot of free time to decode the ins and outs of Brexit. In a recent politics lecture I attended at Warwick University, the lecturer asked us to discuss Brexit, no one in the room questioned was above 17, this was such an open ended question that many people chose not to put their hand up, perhaps fear of getting a statistic wrong or generally voicing an opinion. To be honest I don’t blame them, I was in a similar situation, I hadn’t really the confidence to put my hand up and express a view on a subject when I have no idea what is truth and what is propaganda. As a politics student you would think I would have a very strong view on Brexit, but with so much false information flying around it is hard to get to grips with what really is the correct and formulate my own opinion. Anyway, a boy behind me put his hand up and said to summarise his point that “for our children it will be better, however we face a very tough next few years” and I couldn’t agree more, but it got me to thinking, our generation missed out on a vote by a couple of years, that will affect the majority of our adult lives, with large expenditure cuts, job losses and even now an uncertain future with the outcome of the deal, or the possibility of no deal. How is this fair? 60% of over 55’s voted leave, yet, with all due respect, this outcome will affect my generation a lot more significantly, yet we have, once again, been silenced.
Written by Heather Rainey