I am 18. We have voted to leave the European Union.
Thinking about how leaving the EU will affect the life chances of young people in my home city of Hull, I feel one thing: fearful. Young people in this city were supposed to be being given a chance. Companies like Siemens, embedded in the EU community, were set to invest in cities like Hull, giving the young the opportunities their parents never had.
Now that future is unclear. Uncertainty looms over a generation that only ever asked to be given a fair chance to succeed – a generation that I soon fear will become a generation robbed.
So very angry
This is why, as a young person, I am despondent about Brexit. Not because we’re already feeling the severe economic effects that hundreds of experts predicted; not because the Leave campaign have already conceded their mistruths – that surprisingly £350 million pound a week cannot be given to the NHS; and not just because this vote raises a very real possibility of the UK disintegrating. I am so very angry because my generation will never get its moment in the sun. We will never have the opportunity to stand, proudly, as British citizens in the European community. An opportunity our parents and grandparents were afforded. We will never be able to realise our potential within the EU and share in the opportunities it very clearly provided, however imperfect it may have been.
This is why the reaction of our age group to this decision is heartbreaking in its passion. I have friends who wanted to work abroad, now filled with pessimism, feeling their capacity to contribute to the international community is capped. Young people from immigrant backgrounds are feeling like strangers in their own country. Some look to older generations, to their parents, and ask, “Why?” As young people, we’re all struggling to acclimatise to the rough end of democracy.
When for so many of us our first vote was in this referendum, it feels as if we haven’t even had a chance to become acquainted to the community we’re now to be torn away from. With 73 per cent of us 18-24 year olds voting Remain, we’re going to have to forge a post-Brexit Britain that few of us even wanted to consider in the first place. We will have to navigate through an uncertain, unprecedented era in which those who tipped the vote to Leave are likely to have departed.
A damning judgment of our society can be reached in that young people wanted just three things in this referendum: the vote, the truth and, most importantly, education. Some of us were granted one of these wishes; those 16 and under were granted none – a decision I think many will come to see as wrong in the future.
“I just want some more facts.” This is what many of my friends repeated to me time after time during the campaign. We were making the most simple, humble and beautiful request to those with the power to change things: educate us. This was clearly a request too far and, in the largest political decision in a generation, government efforts to educate young people on the arguments weren't merely woeful, they were nonexistent.
Although the future is worrying and unclear, and I sincerely wish that we had chosen a different path, hope still remains for young people in this country. Our passion and desire to participate, educate ourselves and collaborate to achieve change is a force to be reckoned with. And, post-Brexit, these are qualities we will require more than ever before.
Keir Mather is an A-level pupil in Hull. He is vice-chair of East Yorkshire Young Labour, and tweets as @KeirAMather