The Cambridge City Council District voted 73.8% to Remain in 2016 LOUIS ASHWORTH

My biggest regret of last term was not attending the People’s Vote march that took place in October. Approximately 700,000 individuals took part to demand a referendum on the terms of our exit from the European Union, but the student presence could have been greater. This Saturday, 23rd March, marks the final call to action for those who have been too complacent with this Government’s handling of our withdrawal from the European Union, with Brexit still impending despite the recent extensions to Article 50.

Students have the most at stake, whether we’re from the UK, mainland Europe or further afield, as Brexit means a tougher job market, less opportunity and fewer rights for us all. This is not to mention the hollowing out of vital research funding, and uncertainty surrounding our future in the Erasmus+ program, which subsidises students broadening their horizons in the EU. We cannot go without a say on a decision that will affect the rest of our lives. The global issues we will face as a generation, whether this is climate change, mass migration or tackling tech giants, are those that will be most hampered from reduced collaboration on the world stage. These are all things the EU project has proven effective at handling.

Those young people who did not get the opportunity to express themselves democratically in the 2016 referendum, like myself and many other Cambridge students, have consistently polled around 80% in support of remaining in the EU. By my calculations, over 4300 UK students currently studying at Cambridge University never got to vote in the 2016 EU referendum. This doesn’t even include the EU students who will see their rights to study, work and live here impacted. It represents a flaw in our national politics. Young people’s opinions are often neglected, which like many other flaws, has been made abundantly clear by Brexit. I hope as many students as possible will join the People’s Vote march this Saturday to ensure the debate is firmly about our futures.

“I implore Cambridge students to join the thousands of other silenced young voices on the People’s Vote march”

While one could argue the ignorance of politicians to the views of the young is applicable to every policy, it is particularly severe in the Brexit debate where the “will of the people” is oft cited. This is fundamentally caused by the poor leadership of our political parties. On one hand, we have Theresa May. She consistently alienates vast swathes of her party both within and without Parliament, not to mention those too young to vote in 2016, by neglecting to consult them on her Brexit ‘strategy’. On the other, we have Corbyn who, after galvanising the “youth-quake” in GE2017, has been inadequately involved in the Brexit debate, leaving many young people who voted for him disillusioned with the party. I commend him for allowing his party to debate Brexit policy at their party conference, with the membership deciding to support a referendum after exploring other avenues. Unfortunately, Corbyn is yet to commit to a concrete position, on a referendum or otherwise.

I am sceptical about the impact of street protests, having been brought up hearing the old stories of my parents’ youth and the impact of the miners’ strikes on my home region. With dozens of school children marching through Cambridge last week against climate change, it might be asked – who is going to listen to young people? But it is this mentality that has us in our current bind, where the issues of our youth are neglected.


READ MORE

Mountain View

What Brexit could mean for research in Cambridge

The combined effort of thousands of schoolchildren across 123 countries set the news agenda for the day. Loudly pushing issues up the agenda incentivises journalists to demand responses from politicians, shaping policies and generating narratives. This is how change occurs. The last People’s Vote march made headlines across national media, at a time when another referendum seemed less likely.

This is our last chance to demand better and have a say before “Independence Day”, whenever it may fall. Our last chance to have our voices projected on the national stage. Our last chance to advocate for giving everyone the right to have their say on where we go from here. This is why I implore Cambridge students to join the thousands of other silenced young voices on the People’s Vote march this Saturday.

Sponsored links