Brexit: are the young being taken for granted?

The deadline is fast approaching for the end of negotiations and commencing of the transitional period after the 29th March. To many, time is running out for the government to bring back a deal that would minimise the economic uncertainties that are seen to ensue after Britain withdraws its membership from the European Union. Moreover, the government have had two years to devise a plan that suits the interests of all, but in that time it can be seen that they have merely delayed the process for as long as possible in hope that the EU would make compromises. In reality this hasn’t worked, thus it is very much the case that Britain could end up leaving the EU without any deal at all, which would be catastrophic for the 48% that opted to remain. The government has entered an impasse given that the option is between May’s deal and a no deal scenario. Is this what people voted for?

It does need to be accepted that Britain voted to leave the EU, but the needs of all need to be considered so that all interests can be safeguarded. Regardless of the size of the winning majority, figures like Jacob Rees-Mogg and advocates in the European Research Group would much rather prefer a hard Brexit, subsequently leaving Britain operating on World Trade Organisation rules. This is potentially what the youth of today will have to endure for the rest of their working lives. Research clearly shows that the youth voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, as opposed to the over-55 cohort that wanted to leave. In only a few years time, those wanting to remain will supersede leave voters due to the polarisation of age and the Brexit vote.

Sympathy can be given to those that wanted to withdraw Britain’s membership from the EU. Older voters would have experienced the golden age of the 1960’s, with a Keynesian-style supply – and – demand economy. However, they would also have endured the rise of Thatcherism and implementation of neoliberal economics that was exacerbated with the inauguration of the Maastricht treaty that many on the left described as a capitalist club. This created a `left behind` cohort of voters that felt the establishment simply disregarded their existence and, consequently, showed their frustration in the EU referendum.

This depicts a dismal view of the EU and its operations. Nevertheless, the millennial generation have, through globalisation, have experienced much integration between different cultures due to internationalisation in higher education, and has been generated by the premise of the Lisbon treaty to create a more social Europe. It’s not the complete fault of the EU for situations that have occurred. Neoliberalism was deployed by Thatcher, which saw a massive revolt form industrial workers in the North. Therefore, the Brexit vote could be seen as a voice of frustration against the Westminster elite, not explicitly at the EU.

As a result, it seems barbaric that the young of today have to be taken against their will and leave an institution that has helped to being cohesion between different cultures. In the current era, were there is much hostility and far-right populism emerging, cohesion is needed to eradicate impetus from the select few that promote this agenda.

* Joe Monk is a Liberal Democrat party member and writes for the thinktank `Talk Politics`, which aims to promote democracy.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Nonconformistradical 17th Dec '18 - 11:32am

    “It does need to be accepted that Britain voted to leave the EU”

    Given the pack of lies with which the people were presented at the time – I don’t think so!

  • John Marriott 17th Dec '18 - 1:26pm

    What this pensioner (75 and not likely to be around for that much longer) wants to know is why ‘the young’ managed to vote for Corbyn last year and yet, the year before, failed to turn out in sufficient numbers in what many argue was a far much meaningful vote, especially for their future. Perhaps they were too busy polishing their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

  • Peter Martin 17th Dec '18 - 3:51pm

    There’s something being taken for granted but it isn’t the young. It’s the nature of the EU itself! Brexit is the least of the EU’s problems.

    When interest rates are on the rise worldwide you have to look at who is in the weakest economic state and expect them to collapse first. It has been rising interest rates which has precipitated each of the last world economic crises.

    We’re heading back to the kind of euro crisis of 2012, except it will be Italy which will be at the epi-centre of the problem rather than Greece. It is often said that Italy is too big to fail, and too big to rescue, which is not a good combination for the eurozone or global financial markets! Actually it isn’t too big too rescue but the political will to do that is questionable. If Italy goes belly up there’s no telling just what will happen.

    The problem could blow up at any time but I would say something has to give, one way or the other, within the next six months.

  • David Evans 17th Dec '18 - 5:12pm

    Actually, as John Marriott pointed out, it is not true to state that “Research clearly shows that the youth voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU.” What research clearly shows is that the youth overwhelmingly did not vote in the referendum. As liberals we should be very wary of skewing how we look at evidence to support an argument that we are comfortable making. As in coalition, it simply leads to us feeling good about ourselves (confirmation bias) rather than realising that we have got to raise our standards and our game, or we will lose yet again to the Tories.

  • Well said, Nonconformistradical. Only a minority of GB’s 65 million voted to leave. Respecting the referendum result is essentially respecting electoral fraud, so why do people continue to parrot this statement about accepting it? Maybe if it is officially declared void by the ongoing court case, the bogey will finally be nailed but I doubt it. We need justice in the shape of a proper honest vote.

  • Martin Land 17th Dec '18 - 5:45pm

    The problem in 2016 was that too many young people thought their parents and grandparents couldn’t possibly be that stupid.

  • Jayne Mansfield 17th Dec '18 - 7:10pm

    @ Martin Land,

    I would bet on the fact that most young people wouldn’t want their parents or grandparents to leave this ‘vale of tears ‘ ASAP, to get a remain vote.

  • “Neoliberalism was deployed by Thatcher which saw a massive revolt by industrial workers in the North”.

    Indeed………, but she wasn’t the last one to deploy it.

    It started all over again in 2010…….. which was a bit fresher in No voters minds in 2010……….and then people wonder why there are no longer any Lib Dem seats between East Anglia and the Lake District.

  • Young people have not actually done well over the last few decades. They’ve been lumbered with high student debt, priced out of the housing market, driven into low paid work and have increasingly had the safety net of welfare removed. They haven’t faired well across Europe either. Travel is a little easier, but that is about it really.

  • Peter Martin 18th Dec '18 - 9:01am

    @ William Fowler,

    “If you look at overall debt levels in the Eurozone and on-going deficits then it is in relatively good shape compared to the UK or USA….”

    Its in even better shape, by this metric, if the comparison is to Japan which has a debt/GDP ratio of around 250%. So why is Italy considered to be main problem globally? The answer of course is that Japan has its own currency and sets its own rules about budget deficits and the level of debt that it wants to support. If Japan gets it wrong the Yen will plunge on the Forex markets. There’s no sign of that.

    Italy has to rely on Germany and the ECB giving its approval for its fiscal policies. If they they no, Italian bonds could plummet in value and take down the Italian banking system. Italy can run out of euros. Japan cannot run out of Yen.

    “…on UK history, we had the Brown/Blair years which almost bankrupted the country”

    Just like the Japanese cannot run out of Yen, the UK can never run out of pounds so cannot involuntarily become bankrupt. The risk is inflation. If you feel that the Blair/Brown ran the economy tolerating too much inflation then that is, of course, fair comment. Just what it should be is a matter of opinion.

  • Peter Martin 18th Dec '18 - 9:21am

    @ Martin Land,

    The problem in the 90’s was that too many economists thought the Europeans couldn’t possibly be that stupid.

    Introducing a common currency to be shared by all EU countries? The take up is 19 so far. The EU would be just fine without the euro. They said it would never work and it hasn’t!

    Yes we know the UK isn’t one of the 19 but the problems caused by the euro cannot be confined within EZ borders. There would have been an easy win for Remain but for those problems.

  • I cannot agree that there is any evidence that there has been a hope by our government that the EU would make compromises. Compromises imply that both parties have clear objectives. The EU position has been clear. Our government has realised that it is not possible to leave the customs union and common market and stay in it at the same time. Yet this is what our Prime Minister is aiming for, and has said so loud and clear. However the tactics have been clear. Get a last minute agreement with the EU which has to be in terms of reality – but appear to finalise it at the last minute. And then present it at the last minute to Parliament and people saying it is either that deal or no deal. So you have no choice. This has been arranged very skilfully by the Prime Minister. We can get staying in the EU without the democracy, or chaos. She doesn’t seem to like democracy so she is the ideal person to do it.
    Everyone in Parliament knows this is the reality.
    The EU have tried everything in their power to help the U.K., but in the U.K. blaming the EU for everything has become a national pastime.

  • Laurence Cox 18th Dec '18 - 10:49am

    @Peter Martin

    The problem with the Euro was not that it was a common currency, but that it was a single currency. It did not stand alongside all the EZ currencies but replaced them. If it had existed like the ECU as a notional accounting unit for transfers between different EU countries (as John Major advocated) then the problems experienced by Greece, italy, Portugal, Spain, and ireland would have been solved by revaluing their currencies against the ECU. Yes, we would not have had the advantage of one currency when on holiday in EZ countries, but how many people go to more than one country on a single holiday?

  • Sue Sutherland 18th Dec '18 - 1:57pm

    I’m glad you mentioned the sixties Joe because otherwise I would have had to point out that not everyone over the age of 55 voted Leave, and it’s not even a resounding majority. I think you’re correct about the good old days that my generation remember. I don’t think most of them were thinking of Empire but in the 60s and 70s wages rose and a lot of people could afford to buy labour saving devices and home entertainment for the first time. So if that coincided with your youthful aspirations it was a golden age when you compare it with what is happening at the moment.
    What I don’t understand is why my generation mostly seems to have forgotten that we were also trying to get into the EEC, or whatever it was at the time, because our economic situation wasn’t that great, but General de Gaulle kept vetoing it.
    I don’t think the generational argument helps us to get much further forward. Young people, as is the norm, didn’t vote as much as the older generation. Older people indulge in nostalgia and often haven’t been taught to think critically about what they read in the newspaper or hear on the TV and radio. This isn’t their fault . The vast majority of people in my generation were told they were failures at 11 and were stuck with that for the rest of their lives, receiving a poorer education than the small minority who went to grammar schools. Is it any wonder that they chose to fight back at the intelligentsia through a Brexit vote?

  • Peter Martin 18th Dec '18 - 3:16pm

    @ Sue Sutherland,

    “I don’t think most of them ( ie. us oldies ! … PM) were thinking of Empire”

    That was the previous generation. The over 90s maybe and there aren’t many of those left.

    We were the sixties generation, long hair, anti-establishent, anti-capitalist, anti- apartheid, anti racist, anti fascist. At least I was, and I don’t feel at all apologetic about being anti the capitalist entity known as the EU. Except my 1970s self would have said that was more than a sufficient reason. Fast forward to 2018 and I’ve moved slightly to the right. I’m now against the EU because it’s a very unsuccessful capitalist entity.

    My 1970s self wouldn’t be too impressed about that!

    @ Laurence Cox,

    I agree.

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