No, us millennials are not the victims of Brexit
Addressing Theresa May at her first Prime Minister’s Questions last week, Labour MP Barry Sheerman made a plea on behalf of ‘the millennials’ in post-Brexit Britain. Asking if May would soon outline her ‘vision’ for Britain’s relationship with the EU, and young people’s place within it, he regurgitated the overworked sentiment that the poor young people of Britain are the victims of this referendum; that our futures have been destroyed by the Little Englander, backward perspectives of our elders.
Invoke Article 50 NOW!, the spiked campaign I am involved with, wants to challenge this soppy rhetoric. We want to say, ‘We are not victims’. We do not believe that our futures have been jeopardised or that our opportunities have been scuppered by the voting intentions of other generations.
Focusing much of his case on our lost ability to travel freely across Europe, Sheerman’s question – along with much of public opinion – shows how trivial (and shoot me for saying it, selfish) the conversation about the younger generation has become.
We should not be talking so much about our white European privilege to travel freely through neighbouring countries, how cheap our roaming charges are, or the disappointing exchange rate we got a few days before heading off on holiday. The EU referendum was more important than those issues. It was a once-in-a-generation chance to redefine politics; to remind the establishment that, no matter their invested interests, democracy and the desires of the people should always triumph.
From anti-Brexit picnics to a leftie-luvvie march on parliament to demand the overturning of the referendum result, too many twentysomethings are complaining about having been ‘victimised’ by the people’s choice, and are saying the people got it wrong and perhaps should be made to think again and vote again. We should be standing up for democracy, not denigrating it like this.
Sheerman’s comments show that much post-referendum rhetoric is dwelling on the past, instead of addressing what might be achieved in the future. Young British people should shift their focus from the privileges they apparently lost when a majority of the electorate voted Leave and towards the opportunities we could gain from opening up to the rest of the world in a new way.
Quit rolling over to the pandering eyes and consoling cuddles of the Remain camp. Whether you voted Leave or Remain, now is the time to make sure your voices are heard in the post-referendum discussion, especially in the arguments for why democracy is important. It’s time we thought about how we might benefit from the fruits of democracy, shape our futures, and ensure that others around the world can equally reap the rewards of a post-EU, open-minded, globalist Britain.
The EU referendum showed us how influential the everyday person’s opinion can be. Sheerman’s ‘millennials’ would be deserting democratic values, and their own potential, if they let this fact pass them by. We’re not victims; we can shape the future, and we should start by calling for Article 50 to be invoked now.
Izzy Lyons is a writer and a campaigner for spiked’s Invoke Article 50 NOW! campaign.