This article is the last part of our focus Brexit: How a generation got screwed over. At the referendum, 75 percent of the 18 to 24-year olds voted to remain in the EU. We asked some of them, how they feel about the result and how they deal with it.
Emma, 24, from Bristol – „A dark cloud for our future“
mokant.at: How did you vote in the EU referendum and why?
Emma: I voted to remain in the EU elections for many reasons. I am not naive enough to think that the EU is perfect by any means. I believe that there are a lot of flaws that must be addressed. However, in my eyes the EU was formed after the biggest conflict humanity had ever seen when millions of lives were lost. Part of the reason why it was formed was to bring together economically, politically and socially, those countries that had previously torn each other apart and thereby help to implement peace and mutual respect in order to ensure that such a conflict doesn’t happen again.
I know a lot of people voted leave out of fear and concern for immigration and the worry about its consequences for our country. Again I believe that immigration needs to be looked at but as a separate issue. In my opinion the pros outweigh the cons. This fear of an increased threat of terrorism should we let more people through our borders, or be more entwined with Europe seems to me a little nonsensical. Surely it is better to stand together in order to contain or fight such threats, as opposed to isolating ourselves. My final reason to vote remain is that the EU provides many medical, research and charity grants to the UK which are of huge benefit to us. I believe it will be more detrimental for us to severe ties with the EU then it will be for them. Again, for me, the pros outweigh the cons.
mokant.at: What’s your conclusion for the result?
Emma: Like a lot of the country I was saddened by the result. My first reaction however, was anger towards the government. Throughout the whole process I felt like our politicians were merely playing a power game, one that Cameron lost. I saw no real concern for the country or its citizens, merely a puppet show of fake facts, misleading statistics and fear mongering from both sides.
One thing that seemed to come to light post-result was that so many people didn’t seem to even know what the EU was, or what it did. Some voted leave due to anger at immigration or a belief in Farage’s ludicrous statement that 350 billion pounds would be put towards the NHS. Many voted remain out of fear of change. But it seemed clear that nobody really knew what was going on and I blame the government for that. Their interests seemed with themselves and their own place in the political hierarchy.
mokant.at: Do you feel any consequences of Britain leaving the EU in your life?
Emma: I have already seen consequences of Britain voting to leave, for example the terrible rate of the pound, increased racial attacks and a sense of entitlement, along with a general air of feeling divided. I feel like there is becoming an increasing divide between the social classes as well as the generations. England has always been very class divided but I think this will increase now as a result of the vote because from what I have seen it is the younger, middle-class, university educated who voted to remain and the older or more working class section who voted to leave and I think this has created a bigger divide and a lot of ‚bad blood‘.
In terms of Britain actually leaving the EU, I am concerned about freedom of movement for myself and the younger generation who will find it much more difficult to live and work in Europe. I have always loved having that option and see it only as a good thing in cementing friendships and encouraging the sharing of talent and hard work. I have definitely reaped the rewards of having the best and brightest individuals come to Britain to study and work. Overall I am concerned that we will be moving backwards once we leave the EU and return to being an isolated island once more. We live in a very different era to pre-EU and in my opinion we should be looking to progress rather than go back to how we were before.
mokant.at: What do you think will happen now in Britain?
Emma: I wish I could answer this question with at least some certainty but sadly the poor planning and complete shock felt by so many means I cannot. I think the nation will be holding its breath for at least another couple of years. The fact that everything is so uncertain however will not help the economy as nobody wants to buy houses etc. before anything has ultimately been decided. Sadly I can’t see much positivity in Britain’s future and it has made me quite sad to be British. I believe we have become too ensconced in fear and intolerance that it has created a dark cloud for our future.
Ben, 24, from Birmingham – „Homophobia and Xenophobia became acceptable“
mokant.at: As an austrian who moved to Britain a few years ago, what is your conclusion for the result of the referendum?
Ben: I was devastated! I volunteered on the day of the referendum and spoke to people on the phone just to make sure that as many people as possible would go out and vote. Although that didn’t help, it made me feel a little better in the sense that I knew I did what I could, even though that didn’t change anything about the outcome. The whole next day felt really surreal. When I left the house for my grocery shopping, I just looked around at people and felt like: “How can you act as if nothing happened? You probably voted for this. How can you buy your litre of milk when you just changed a lot of lives and probably don’t even realise it? You fucked up my future.”
mokant.at: Do you feel any consequences of the referendum in your life, right now?
Ben: Yes, I do. People feel more entitled to their opinion now. What before the referendum was totally unacceptable to say, like racist, homophobic, xenophobic or any other bigotry, has suddenly become acceptable again, or to describe it with the German word: salonfähig. And I feel that too. I have also personally noticed the drop in the pound sterling. I work in a shop, where we now can’t get certain items back in stock because of the higher import costs from the US.
mokant.at: What do you think will happen now in Britain?
Ben: In March, the government will probably trigger Article 50, which means that two years in the future from that point, the UK is officially out of the EU. I plan to do a master’s degree in the UK, which I can still get into, but I don’t know any more if I have to pay international fees or EU fees, which is going to be quite the difference. It looks like it is going to be a “hard Brexit,” as they call it, which means risking leaving the single market in order to cut down on international immigration. You have to remember that not all of the people who voted to leave the EU voted to get rid of every immigrant. That was just part of the conversation. There have been so many lies and scheming in this referendum that I don’t think it is a democratic opinion any more.
Titelbild: (c) Katharina Egg
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