By now, you have probably heard about Britain voting on something called Brexit, which decided whether they would leave or remain within the European Union. After voting on June 23rd, British citizens decided to leave the Union by a tiny fraction of votes.
This unprecedented move has left the world waiting to see what will come next for the newly independent country. Even now, almost three weeks after voting, the future for Britain is foggy.
British citizens are struggling with the drastic changes that were immediately felt after the vote. In global markets, the pound dropped to its lowest level in decades. Some citizens are fearful about their futures and uncertain about job security as well as living situations in Britain. Adding to this uncertainty, are the many Pro-Brexit political leaders who have already begun backtracking on campaign promises.
Both sides of the Brexit debate seem increasingly complicated, but can be boiled down to two driving ideologies: anti-immigration and the economy.
The Pro-Brexit side believe that leaving the EU is a necessary step to restoring the country’s former identity. Their motto is “Put the great back into Great Britain,” however Pro-Brexit leaders have failed to explain how they plan on accomplishing this. In lieu of an explanation, they continue to merely emphasize stricter immigration laws.
On the other hand, the Anti-Brexit side argue that leaving the EU would do untold damage to the economy and local job markets. Investor uncertainty will also play a large role in Britain’s floundering economy. This prediction has already come true as the pound continues to lose value. The Anti’s are also quick to dismantle the opposition’s arguments. They argue that by leaving the EU, Britain cuts the opportunities of easy travel, study, living, and working abroad for younger generations. Britain will also have to face issues of climate change, terrorism, tax evasion, cyber-crime, etc. without the help of the EU.
Of course, Brexit advocates won only by a tiny margin. A 3% vote difference was all it took for Britain to sever ties with the European Union and throw British citizens into a panic. This drastic change has left many Brits feeling confused and anxious for their futures, especially the younger generations who participated in the referendum.
Once again, young and millennial voters are left feeling ignored and abandoned by their government. Despite their campaigning and voting, millennials feel sourly disappointed by a system that seems determined to exclude them from politics.
According to this article in Politico, 75 percent of British voters under the age of 24 voted for Britain to remain in the EU. The majority of people in the age range of 25-49 also voted to remain. However, it was the older generation of 50 years old and above who primarily voted to leave and would eventually swing the Brexit vote.
Young voters were outraged and blamed rising racial tensions and ignorance for the bitter divide between generations. Millennial voters argue that they will have to bear the consequences of this decision while older generations will not be around to witness the full affect of their actions.
Furious and disappointed, young citizens took to social media to point out flaws in their political system and voice anxieties about their future:
“We’re the one’s who’ve got to live with it for a long time, but a group of pensioners have managed to make a decision for us” said Mr. Philips in this New York Times article.
“I’m already part of a generation stuck in rented property unable to buy my own house, the older generation seem so happy with the result, almost smug like it’s some sort of victory completely unaware of the chaos they’ve caused for my generation. I’m dreading what will happen to employment, workers’ rights, the environment and our economy” said Hannah Shaw, a worker at a National Service Hospital.
“Old people have dictated a future to our young that they didn’t want” said Twitter user Adam Catterall.
Young adults are so enraged that, even after all the votes have been counted, they continue to campaign for the overturning of Brexit. There are multiple petitions spreading through Facebook that demand a second referendum. While this story continues to unfold, only time will tell if racism will overtake Britain or if the economy will revive itself.
Many young Americans are watching the situation in Britain, and will have to face a similar challenge on their own election day in November. Millennials and younger generations have always struggled to show significant numbers during elections, but now is not the time to give up. The youth vote is obviously more important than ever in deciding which path our futures will take because, as we learned from Brexit, every vote counts. Young people need to vote to make their voices heard by older generations and those that will represent. This is the only way that we can start creating our own legacy.