For young people post Brexit, the future looks uncertain. Everything – from your ability to travel freely to your national identity – has been called into question by the vote to leave the EU.
As news spread on the morning on 24 June, hundreds of thousands of young Remain voters were left distraught. 75% of those between 18-24 voted to remain in the EU, but were overruled by a (largely) ageing population that voted overwhelmingly to leave.
Understandably, a wave of anger, resentment and disbelief have followed the result – leading to over 30,000 people to march on a pro-EU rally in London last weekend, an appeal for a second referendum and a new era of politically active twenty-somethings.
But in all of the fracas and with everything up in the air, it’s hard to really get an idea of how exactly life will change after Article 50 has been invoked.
For now, let’s have a look at 5 ways that Brexit might affect twenty-somethings in the coming days, months and years.
Post-Brexit Britain – are we still a United Kingdom?
First and foremost, the Brexit vote has called into question the very identity of the United Kingdom and what it means to be British. Scotland look likely to have another referendum to leave the United Kingdom after a majority of Scottish voters voted to Remain.
Northern Ireland are considering a similar idea too, as they are the only nation that share a boundary with an EU country and also voted in the majority to remain. They rely on the EU to play a part in the ongoing peace process between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – and it’s unlikely that they’re going to risk that fragile peace on the risk of Brexit.
If both leave, we’ll be left with England and Wales. Both countries voted to leave the EU (although Wales may have changed its mind) and so will likely remain part of the UK, but losing two countries from the UK will call lots of things into question. Will we need a new flag? What does the future of Britain look like? How will our economy cope with losing both countries?
On top of that, how we function and get along as a society is also being called into question. Even if Scotland and Northern Ireland don’t leave the UK, the country has been divided up into two camps that are becoming further and further apart.
Unfortunately, the Brexit result has led to an ugly breed of xenophobia across the country, by a small minority of people who feel that their racist and xenophobic ideas have been legitimised by the vote to leave the EU. Of course, this wasn’t the intention of the Leave campaign, but it has been a side effect of certain aspects of the campaign. As a Dorset MP noted, ‘a genie appears to have been let out of the bottle’.
Are we slowly becoming a nation defined by these actions? Is this part of our identity now?
This side-effect, among others, only serves to enhance and widen the chasm between the two sides of the EU debate – and it’s this chasm that now calls into question the concept of our national identity.
Young vs old. Left vs Right. Remain vs Leave. Us vs Them. With every day, our country is looking less and less like the One Nation. Less and less like a United Kingdom. As we progress towards Article 50, it looks more and more like two groups of people, divided by a mandate of just 4%, aren’t going to be able to see eye-to-eye on the issue.
Whichever side of the debate you fall on, it’s becoming clear that the UK is becoming an increasingly fractured society and that’s bound to have long-lasting social affects. Just two weeks in, these effects are almost impossible to predict, but they’re likely to have an enormous effect on the future of those just beginning their adult lives, socially and economically.
How will education be affected for the young people post Brexit?
By all accounts, Brexit has sparked the end of the ‘Erasmus Generation’ – at least for now.
The Erasmus programme has, for years, allowed UK students to study at institutions across Europe (normally for free). UK students have benefitted from close relationships with European universities by studying in new cities, experiencing new cultures, learning new languages and making European friends.
However, although Erasmus allows countries outside of the EU to join, it’s likely to require – like all other things with the EU – renegotiation. For the time being, it’s safe to assume that students won’t be able to study abroad, for free, for the foreseeable future.
But that’s not all – UK universities benefit a great deal from the UK’s place in the EU. Universities receive millions of pounds in funding from EU grants, and millions of pounds in tuition from international students – all of which disappears when we leave the EU, creating a hole in their income that will have a knock-on effect on the quality of education they can provide for students and their international reputation.
How will Brexit affect the younger generation’s careers?
Of course, all of this is only speculation, but it is estimated that up to 100,000 jobs could be lost or disappear as a result of leaving the EU.
If the economy is hit or we head into a recession, it’s likely that the burden will fall hardest on young workers at the beginning of their careers. Older workers are often protected from recruitment freezes and – as they’re more established in their careers – find it easier to find new jobs, even if the worst happens.
As The Guardian reports:
‘Research shows that graduates who enter the jobs market during a recession earn less than those who do so in a buoyant economy, and that the differential persists for years.’
Researchers at the Centre for European Reform (CER) note that if unemployment were to rise, it would be the under 30s who would be most vulnerable.
‘Economists know a good deal about the impact of recessions on different social groups,’ said Christian Odendahl and John Springford in the CER report. ‘They have also studied how recessions impact the future earnings of these groups after the economy returns to normal. And the verdict is clear: it is the young and the low-skilled who suffer the most.’
How will Brexit affect travel in Europe?
Your twenties are the perfect time for being young, carefree and seeing the world. However, Brexit could have an effect on how easy it is to visit Europe – it’s more than likely that (unless we negotiate a deal that allows for free movement of people) you’ll need a visa to visit the continent, even if you’re popping over to France for the day.
But it doesn’t just stop there. As Megan Dunn, part of Britain Stronger in Europe, said:
“Our membership of the European Union makes it easier for young people to travel in Europe. Visas in EU countries are not required, and travel is cheaper because of the EU. Airfares are lower because of the single market and roaming charges have recently been reduced because of it, and will be axed altogether next year. Visa applications could be costly and lengthy, and travellers might lose the ability to use the European Health Insurance Card, leaving them with higher insurance costs.”
Will Brexit make it easier to buy a house?
Throughout the campaign, the Leave EU camp repeatedly claimed that, due to control of immigration, young people would find it easier to buy houses – as rising immigration has a result on the price of housing.
While this is a possibility, it’s also possible that the opposite will happen – as the economy takes a hit, credit conditions may tighten and make it much harder to get a mortgage.
On top of that, if the economy tanks and younger people find it hard to gain employment, then it’ll be even more difficult to save up for a deposit for a mortgage.
Of course, all of this is speculation. After just two weeks, it’s very difficult to tell whether we’ll even leave the EU, let alone have a good idea of the long-term effects of an unprecedented decision.
As it stands though, the young generation feel disenfranchised from a country that they love. They feel that the rug has been pulled from underneath their feet – overnight, the future they had been planning has been called into question.
How are you planning for a post-Brexit future? Let us know in the comments below.