Flashback to the 23rd of June 2016. It is our final school assembly, the same day we wave goodbye to our British headmaster, who had guided the school for 25 years. I am gripped to my phone, so is my friend to my left, and a few other Year 12 students scattered around the hall. Throughout the day and assembly, lasting short of three hours, I was fixed to a website showing a yellow and a blue bar at odds with each other, and escalating numbers. Towards the end of the assembly, the audience grows awry. Our headmaster notices as people begin to murmur; teachers can too be seen on their phones with shocked expressions. A number that everyone can see: a cause for concern, trepidation, a foreboding nightmare that will infect a nation for years to come. 52%. Britain is leaving the EU.
Two-and-a-half years later, Brexit has and soon will become a reality. What followed an insecure and turmoiled election was the antithesis of the powerful British nation-state: limited immigration, racism, no trade, Euro-skepticism, anger against our neighbours (both across the sea and in our cities). Critiques lauded the Conservative party leaders who took charge of the Brexit campaign and spearheaded a percentage point into real and inevitable law, as the British public, visibly divided were forced to accept the hard truth.
“we could only watch and stare as the adults of the country stripped us of a future”
For those lacking maturity during the Brexit campaign and election- in the eyes of the British government – we could only watch and stare as the adults of the country stripped us of a future, bearing the fruits of a economic and cultural system that ensures its members survival and fruition. Britain’s leaders, often the Labour party has time and time again vouched for the electoral rights of 16- and 17-year-olds, arguing that whilst 16-year-olds can fight and die for our country (and face taxes too!), voting in the interests of democracy seems too liberal a law to implement. In accounting for an NUS study, claiming that as many as 75% of 16 and 17-year-olds declared that they would have voted in the 2016 referendum, and over 70% of 18 to 24-year-olds voting remain, it is hard to believe the same result if a second referendum were to be held.
The allure of a second chance for Britain has been often dismissed on the basis of ‘cancelling democracy’. The People’s Vote, a movement lead by young and spirited Labour MP for Streatham, Chuka Umunna, has achieved increasing media in the past 12 months. From a highly optimistic deal seen from both sides of the spectrum, a People’s Vote has gained momentum recently following increasing anxiety of a no-deal Brexit. Many are now facing a potential second referendum as a true possibility, in the instance of May and her party caving in to social pressures from both sides of the House. The basis for a second referendum? It’s simply unfair to live with the consequences of Brexit without being able to have a say.
“under a People’s Vote, would now be able to reinvigorate their political freedom in voting for a change”
The many 16 and 17-year-olds who were too young to vote come the election on the 23rd of June 2016, under a People’s Vote, would now be able to reinvigorate their political freedom in voting for a change. The lies of political and economic freedom produced daily by the Leave campaign prior to the vote, having fuelled education for us young people who tune into the news everyday to hear what was promised and voted on by our seniors, has turned out to be entirely false.
A People’s Vote can remedy a currently-doomed Britain, a Britain suffering at the hands of mismanagement, scare tactics, and fake promises. What must happen before the doomed day of 29th of March 2019 is a mobilisation of young, invigorated people to advocate, to protest, to fight for a second chance to have a say in democracy – and to undo a political movement that have the potential to wreck a future Britain.