Last week’s referendum has affected every British citizen, including those too young to vote
If I could have voted in the EU referendum, I would have been tempted not to.
The conflicting statistics made it very difficult to pick a side and the sheer number of variables affected by a possible Brexit made my opinion on the matter seem rather irrelevant and under informed. I felt all this without the pressure of actually picking a side. Before the vote, the right choice was not clear at all. I would have been among those who made their minds up at the door of the polling station.
With hindsight, obviously, I would have voted Remain. The pound falling to its lowest rate since 1985, employers threatening to move jobs out of Britain, political unrest, including an ongoing Labour party coup, and calls for a second referendum demonstrate the fallout of such a decision.
I would have been among those who made their minds up at the door of the polling station.
Although these outcomes were predicted, I wasn’t aware of them as I was too busy revising for my exams. Once the predictions came true I was not fazed in the slightest: the world of markets and sectors feels too far away to warrant any worrying from me.
The economy seems to be nose-diving, as predicted, which isn’t a positive for myself and my generation.
The Leave campaign was backed by right-wing populists, like Nigel Farage, Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen. These kind of supporters were enough to dissuade many young people away from Leave, including myself. The victory displays a growing popularity of right-wing populists and the calls for referendums across Europe are almost exclusively being called for by nationalist parties.
The interest in Brexit among young people spiked after the vote. Before, I only noticed a few of my peers displaying interest. This could be because most young people, myself included, expected Remain to win and because the result came through just after everyone’s exams had finished – my last exam was at nine in the morning on the day after the vote.
After the outcome of the vote was revealed, the majority of young people (who cared) overzealously raved about the negative effects leaving would have on the country, branded all Leave voters as xenophobes and shared the petition for a second referendum on social media. Many of the people who were outraged by the result had not been particularly political before.
Many argued that the voting age should have been lowered to 16 and the whole decision was ‘undemocratic’ as the people who would be affected the most in the long term were not able to vote. However I do not agree with this view. The referendum should not have been held at all in the first place: decisions this important should not be decided by the quality of rhetoric of politicians.
Just like people who can vote, the opinion among younger people is divided. However, there’s a higher proportion of people who simply don’t care.
Sajjan Sivia is a student doing work experience at Building magazine