Engaging young people in the Brexit process

With statements like ‘Brexit means Brexit’ coming from our Prime Minister, is it any wonder the public is so confused over the impending departure from the EU? Since the referendum, the British public and the world have been plunged into the unknown. The historic vote has resulted in unchartered territory with no standard to compare it to.

Whether you voted Remain or Leave, it must be agreed that the UK has an amazing opportunity to write its own destiny. Yet with this opportunity comes risks; risks of losing the benefits we have currently under the EU and risks of lack of accountability for our politicians. The British public need to be vigilant, ensuring that organisations and individuals with power and vested interests do not have an unfair influence, and addressing the most difficult aspect; to come up with a Brexit deal that satisfies the entire British public.

This is a mammoth task that is unlikely to occur given the clear divisions across society. What we can ensure is that those who are most vulnerable and have the smallest voices are armed with knowledge and given platforms to ensure they are heard.

One of these groups are young people. Many were unable to vote as they were too young or felt that the build-up to the Referendum was not clear enough on what Brexit even meant. Only 2% of MPs are under the age of 30 (13.7% of Brits are aged 20-29). There are even calls to reduce this by having bans on MPs under a certain age. It is no wonder then that the views of young people are so often unrepresented and thus are unfairly targeted by many policies from the new government living wage not being available for under 25s and issues such as unpaid internships (which mostly affect young people) not being adequately addressed.

Having campaigned to get more young people using their vote at both general and local elections, I have seen first-hand how the cycle of apathy occurs. Young people feel their views aren’t being listened to and they see little point in getting involved in the political processes. Policymakers in turn do not prioritise young people as they are not politically active, and so it continues.

Although young people are fighting back through campaigns like Undivided that aims to have young people’s demands for Brexit negotiations heard. But this is only one part of the process. Brexit Watch – run by CoVi – not only aims to connect policymakers and young people but address the information gap, scrutinising the Brexit process and what it means for the younger generation.

It’s time for millennials to ensure they are active in the political processes and demand a Brexit with us in mind.

Meg Kneafsey

Meg Kneafsey

Meg is a contributor to Common Vision's Brexit Watch bureau of millennial commentators, researchers and analysts. Since graduating she has worked several voluntary and paid roles. Meg has led campaigns on social issues in the UK on food poverty, young carers, and youth vote power in County Durham on behalf of vInspired. She has been part of volunteer-led campaigns including ‘Undivided’, which aims to ensure young people’s opinions are heard in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.
Meg Kneafsey

@MegKneafsey

Feminist ♀, @YEUK2012 and #iwill Ambassador, @Raleigh_ Trustee, Blogger, Campaigner @weareundivided and @ICChangeUK #ChangeHerstory
Another day, another politician advertising for an unpaid intern. How about not exploiting young people… https://t.co/UKyuKppebW - 1 hour ago
Meg Kneafsey
Meg Kneafsey

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