Held at the Frontline Club venue near Edgware Road, Matteo Bergamini and Patrick Ireland of Shout Out UK spoke of the philosophy behind their organisation and introduced the speakers that had been lined up.
Fatima Manji from Channel 4 News spoke first around topics such as the rise of racism in post-Brexit Britain. She gave one particularly harrowing anecdote where she experienced a racist retort from a passer-by during the filming of a news story on air pollution in Central London – a topic with little to do with Brexit.
Fatima also raised the point that, unlike previous elections, the referendum saw the largest number of young people voting (64% of 18-24 year olds), suggesting that it is no longer the case that young people aren’t bothered with politics.
This previous assumption, she said, was a reason why politicians felt little need to respond to the youth vote, when it was only made use of by the minority.
Richard Brooks, a leading member of the National Union of Students (NUS) spoke next, raising interesting points from the student perspective. He said that, if he could have gone back in time to a few months before the referendum, he would have made sure the community as a whole was reached out to and given a political voice, not just students of a similar mind-set to him. After all, it was abandoned communities that were the crux of the shock result.
Being young, most had voted Remain but there was a Leave voter who was a passionate member of Undivided – a campaign for young people seeking a better Brexit.
The booklet is well worth a read. It is broken down into three sections:
• migration, business, and the economy
• the environment, education and social justice
• facts and figures from external sources.
The first two sections are composed entirely of young people’s submissions, including young people from Exposure, on what they would do if they were behind the Brexit negotiating team.
A range of viewpoints are expressed, some I agree with, some I don’t, which is no doubt a reaction many readers will have.
One spoke of strengthening ties with the Commonwealth nations as, according to the writer, European countries have “far less in common culturally” with us. This could well be disputed but it is interesting nonetheless to hear an alternative perspective.
Another submission spoke of the daily impact of Brexit, as they needed to commute to the Republic of Ireland from Northern Ireland for work.
The writer suggested giving Northern Irish people the option of retaining EU citizenship. Personally, I believe that offer should stand for all people in Britain.
The fundamental premise behind both the booklet and the Shout Out UK event was, “Brexit has happened. What the hell do we do now?”
This indeed must be the main thought process, for young people in particular, but I also believe that we should still stress the fact that a referendum is not a solemn and binding vow.
We live in a parliamentary democracy and most of the young, most of London, Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to remain and should still be able to fight for something beneficial, like the retaining of EU citizenship for example.
As Fatima Manji said, “When one party wins a general election, the opposition does not pack up and go home.”
The ‘Remoaner’ label should not stop Remainers – or young people in general – from being heard.
I implore young people to look in on Shout Out UK’s booklet and enlighten themselves on the range of viewpoints expressed by people their own age.
Shout Out UK’s philosophy, and the motivation behind the booklet, is a vital one in a world where the young are inactive and the old are running amuck with our world, and with our futures.