The results of the EU Referendum may have surprised many within the UK and all across the world, but it may be especially heartrending for the youths who were so strongly in support for remaining in the EU. The Remain campaign had won the hearts of many youths, with 75 percent of young people that voted to remain in the EU according to a poll by YouGov.
After the referendum outcome on Friday, we took to the streets of London to speak to students and youths who were still reflecting on the referendum result. Since then there has been incidents of post-referendum racism, a mass resignation and a glaringly distinctive disconnect growing between both campaigns.
Perhaps it is time to start building bridges and begin listening to those who hold views different from our own. Hear from 11 millennials in this portrait series: some who ached for remain, the few who successfully opted to leave as well as those who abstained from voting.
I Voted Remain.
1. "I don’t think people fully thought their votes out through. They didn’t fully evaluate the options and I think there are people who are extremists who were spreading mistruths about immigration. Many Europeans here are big contributors to the UK economy."
2. "I found the arguments put forward by the Leave campaign to be contrived and untrue. Simply leaving and trying to negotiate a new trade deal would see us subject to all of the same laws, without any say in making them. So many leading economic authorities have informed us of the severity of the crisis that Brexit would cause. Leaving a union that offers us so much is painfully unfortunate."
3. “There are so many Brits that live elsewhere. You don’t hear Brits being kicked out of other parts of Europe. Immigration is not a rational argument here. Us Brits enjoyed the freedom of movement to wherever we felt comfortable in Europe. We all should be able to freely go to places in Europe to escape and experience places where we haven’t been before. Race shouldn’t have played a part in this either. We are too big of a nation to pull the race card when there are so many ethnic minorities in this nation. London is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world."
4. "So many people don't even know what the European Union is. They don't know who is elected or who is not. I think it is completely fair to have a second referendum. Since most of the people really did not understand what they were voting about, what we had was a false democracy that was not taken seriously. Democracy is dangerous when the voting population is uneducated. Just look at the top Google searches about the EU after the referendum. The campaigns that were run also horrible. Let us all understand the benefits and costs fully and engage before having the vote, so that everyone can make an informed decision."
5. “Most people I knew wanted to remain. If UK goes into a recession, it is young people like us that will be the first ones to be hurt. We will be the new hires in companies that will be the first to be let go, and also there will be much less job and opportunities for youths like us elsewhere in Europe."
6. “A lot of people that voted Leave believed in the promise of the NHS being funded by a lot more with the payments made to the EU. On the first day of the result, the Leave campaign had already gone back on their word and said that was just a misunderstanding. But a lot of people voted based on that reason. I still believe that we should have remained. I don’t know what the future holds. It makes me want to move abroad."
I Voted Leave.
7. "How can you set laws for half a billion people? Why should you be able to make laws that affect all of the people in the same way?
I love Europe but I do not want to be part of this federalist state, governed by laws made by people who we don't even know. There is only a guise of democracy. The European parliament is definitely a talking shop. The only people that have legislative power is the Commission, and these people are appointed. There is an inherent democratic deficit in the European Union. And as for the petition by people who are wanting another referendum. I cannot believe the growth of signatures it had. You can't just have another referendum if you don't like the result."
8. "I voted leave for reasons of sovereignty, cost, agricultural and fishery policies and migration. I think it is important that we build up a fair immigration system. The net migration figure right now is too high for a country like ours and it constrains our public services. Immigration can help our economy but I'd like a skills-based migration policy that does not discriminate against other people. Being half-Russian myself, some members of my family have also been denied tourist visas by the Home Office. There are a lot of jobs, like being a plumber or electrician, that the British people are ready for but are taken by European migrants for lower wages. These migrants may not be qualified or have the proper experience or training to do these jobs."
I Didn't Vote.
9. "I didn't vote because both sides ran an embarrassingly bad campaign, and I didn't agree with either side. No one on either campaign had argued based on actual facts."
10. “The debate was focused entirely on immigration and skin colour and it entirely missed the point. There was absolutely no mention of inequality, poverty, homelessness or the environment. But these are the main issues affecting our society today. I was led towards a vote to leave due to the lack of transparency of the EU, but the media frenzy and fear-mongering tactics made the entire debate uncomfortable for me. For this reason, I decided to abstain from voting. I felt like casting a vote would be meaningless. Even on a fundamental level, we need immigration with our increasingly ageing population. When it comes to racism, well, there's no words.
I’m a citizen of this Earth. And I hope I'm not the only one who wants to talk about the real problems."
11. "I chose to abstain from voting as a Commonwealth citizen because so much of the debate was steeped in sentiments of British nationalism. It isn't something I fully identify with, having only been here for three years. At the end of the day, national democracy means that the people of the country should decide. They are the ones that have to bear the brunt of the consequences after all. I also feel that the people have spoken and a second referendum should not be held, and to do so would be to subvert democracy, which is ironically the very value they sought to protect when undertaking the Brexit project."
The referendum has concluded. There is an increasing turmoil in politics and financial markets, and UK's future seems steeped in uncertainty. However, the nation has spoken and rightfully the people's decision should be respected.
Perhaps the only right thing for youths and students in the UK to do now is to pull together to navigate the tough times ahead. Things can only be improved everyone comes together, graft and innovate to build a prosperous future for all generations.
Do you agree with the students' reasons for voting or do you find their worries for the future justified? Leave a comment and let us know.
This article is part of the EdAid Student Voices initiative, powered by the EdAid Foundation. #StudentVoices aims to invite discourse on the value of higher education through vivid portraits of learners of all ages.
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