Standort: / Meldung: "Brexit: Resentment from young people"

Chris Cummins

Letters from a shrinking globe: around the day in 80 worlds.

27. 6. 2016 - 11:03

Brexit: Resentment from young people

Three quarters of young Brits voted to stay in the European Union. Now they could face a vindictively punitive divorce settlement. Pity the kids.

FM4 Auf Laut

Zwischen Brexit und Bregret: Wer wird künftig den Ton in der EU angeben? Jetzt haben sie es, aber wollten sie das auch? Selbst prominente Brexit-Befürworter wie Nigel Farage und Boris Johnson äußern sich vorsichtig zur Abnabelung Großbritanniens von der EU. Elisabeth Scharang diskutiert mit Politikwissenschaftler Vedran Dzhic und Robert Rotifer in FM4 Auf Laut, am Dienstag, den 28. Juni, ab 21 Uhr und im Anschluss für 7 Tage im FM4 Player.

So Britain has chosen to leave the European Union, triggering, most probably, the sort of "conscious uncoupling" of which Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin would approve. Maybe they could be taken on as advisors. Usually the first rule of divorce is "don't hurt the kids" but seemingly not in this case.

Auf Laut

    According to a YouGov poll, 75% of Britain's youngest voters, those under the age of 24, voted to remain in the European Union, many of them citing job security and economic opportunity. They apparently thought pulling out from the world’s largest trading zone was a poor idea.

    The source


    But who cares about Britain’s youth vote? Not their own government, it seems. The ruling Conservatives stand accused of calling an irresponsible referendum, short of facts, to decide a long-standing conflict within the party.

    And now their former European partners who, at least to judge by the rhetoric, want to punish the Brits with a harsh divorce settlement. As Sigmar Gabriel, the German vice-Chancellor told the Handelsblatt business newspaper, the EU will not be making any fresh offers to the Brits – they want them gone. "It is clear: you can't be a bit pregnant. Nor have half a partnership."

    "Caught in a fight between grumpy old men."

    But this is not about wounded pride, it is about the lives of a young generation of pro-European Brits.You have to feel for them - apparently doomed to be caught up in a fight between grumpy old men.

    Brexit was a decision made over the heads of Britain's youth by their parents and grandparents – those nearing the end of their working lives. 57% percent of Britains under the age 35 told pollsters they voted to remain in the bloc and 57% of Brits over the age of 55 said they voted to leave. What a mathematically neat way of describing what was essentially a battle of the generations.

    a pub

    Chris Cummins

    The over 65-year-olds were the demographic group most in favour of leaving. So, in essence, the nation's young were democratically outgunned by disgruntled pensioners, many of them, according to the New York Times, falling back "on national pride, cultural exceptionalism and nostalgia."

    "The oldies won."

    So you could crudely characterize this as the young looking forward and the old looking backwards, and the oldies won.

    That's democracy but, for me, it doesn't bode well for the future. I met a group of British voters, all under the age of 24, in Hyde Park. One of them, Josh, shared his thoughts with me.

    "A lot of people have been upset by the fact that the people who have to live with this decision the longest are the ones who voted in. I think there is a lot of resentment from young people."

    What do you do with that resentment? Do you just grin and bear it?

    "I mean, what can you do, really? Especially with a referendum? With a normal election you have a five year election term to just vote the party out. But with a referendum you are not going to get the chance to make a decision again for a generation. Nobody really knows what is going to happen at this point. Labour are falling apart, Cameron has resigned. So nobody really knows what is happening. Nobody knows what kind of deal we are going to get from the EU."

    The reason I ask is that it had been 42 years since the last referendum but already we have millions of signatures asking for a new referendum. Can you imagine going through the whole process again?

    "It was enough stress for me going through it the first time. Obviously the bulk of the younger generation was leaning towards Remain but there are a few people I know who allied themselves with the Leave campaign. It has been quite divisive in its own way. Social media has been talking about nothing else for months leading up to this. I did my best to avoid it and failed miserably!

    Englisches Pub, User leehaywood

    I'll ask you just one last thing then: It looks like Scotland wants to stay in the European Union and sees independence as one way of doing that. Can you imagine Scotland leaving the UK?

    "Obviously it was a big thing a couple of years ago when Scotland held its own independence referendum. And now not just Scotland but also Northern Ireland have voted strongly in favour of staying in the European Union. Personally, I'm not sure whether I'd be able to move to Scotland at this point but it is certainly something that I might consider. Or even if this 'Celtic Union' came about with Ireland and Scotland forming their republic and England and Wales being left to go on their own – I might then move to Scotland. But I am not sure if it is practical."