Brexit, Despair and a Generation Who Just Don’t Get It

The divide between the generations is only deepening.


Increasingly, the UK is being divided by age. At the last election, and in the referendum, young people largely voted left while older people voted right. Young voices are being shouted down as the UK has a rapidly ageing population. No wonder young people are angry.

Scroll through Twitter or Facebook groups and you’ll find post after post of people telling Remainers to just accept the result. The irony that the referendum was only delivered because Leavers wouldn’t shut up for decades is lost to them. But why should young people have to be quiet?

If the Brexit movement is so anti-establishment, then why should Remainers be quiet and accept the order of things? It’s the height of hypocrisy. There are many – not just on the Leave side – who think that as it’s been a year, we should just move on. There can be no moving on for young people. This is our future.

“There can be no moving on for young people”

Brexit will impact our healthcare, our security, our cost of living and our future employment options – particularly, when we get to retire. This will inevitably be less of a concern for those who are already retired or are closing in on that date.

The generations before said we’d have it easy and still say we’re entitled now. They encouraged us to dream because we could be anything we wanted. The rise of technology and opportunities would make sure of it, but this is the generation that squandered that by bringing the banking crisis, voting for Tory austerity and voting for Brexit. Millennials are more likely to support equality while progress is slow to be delivered. We were told we could chase our dreams – yet, now we’re told to shut up, put up and just get on our bikes. Great. But dozens are competing for the same jobs. I don’t care if you came out of school and grafted your way up, it isn’t the same. Not when house prices have tripled, and we need to pay £9000 a year for a degree just to be able to get an interview at a fast food joint.

There is anger, there is resentment and there is blame. Young people’s mental health is in a crisis mode but services are cut back and solidarity from older generations is as rare as a secure job with a living wage. A survey by Varkey Foundation earlier this year found that British millennials have some of the poorest mental health rates in the world. We’re taunted and mocked. We’re called snowflakes. Those who speak out about the racism or transphobia they’ve faced are silenced and jeered at. Young people are being drained from the pressures we face and nobody is listening – because if older people could make it then so should we. We just need to get on and work.

“There is anger, there is resentment and there is blame”

Some may even encourage us to protest. To want better voting systems and to make our voices heard, but at the end of the day, they still expect us to be able to get on and succeed in a society that doesn’t want to hear us. We can protest the establishment and complain, but we must still play by the rules and achieve well in it.

Yet, our opportunities range from unemployment to insecure zero hours contracts. In 2010, the suicide of Vicky Harrison was huge news in the media. Harrison died after she applied for 200 jobs. Despite the shock Harrison’s death rightly caused, what has really changed for young people? Every so often there’s murmured outrage at how young people are treated and how more must be done to support young people with their mental health, but this hasn’t translated into real funding, commitment or even a shift in narrative. Young people are still treated with disappointment for failing to meet expectations older generations set and then made impossible for us to rise to.

We need funding, we need support but more than anything we just need society to act like it gives a damn. Listen to us, and appreciate our struggle. Maybe there are no easy solutions and maybe policies will take time but appreciate what we’re going through. None of the problems were our fault after all, and yet we’re still the ones expected to fix them.

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