If Teenagers Like Me Could Vote in Brexit, We’d Still Remain!
A 15-year-old student living in the UK wonders if there would have been a different outcome if she was part of the referendum.
A 15-year-old student living in the UK wonders if there would have been a different outcome if she was part of the referendum.(Photo: Erum Gour/The Quint)

If Teenagers Like Me Could Vote in Brexit, We’d Still Remain!

Brexit, to me and many other teenagers, is a disaster. My family has been living in Bath for a few years now and for us as well as the rest of the world, Brexit is a hot topic.

Every time we switch on the television, the first headline that flashes is ‘BREXIT CRISIS’, followed by headlines of Theresa May losing all authority, the increasing possibility of a no-deal Brexit – the list goes on. It all spells bad news!

In the long term, I believe the UK will be able to recover and adapt to the repercussions of Brexit, because of its institutions, laws and intellectual knowhow. In the short term, however, the consequences of Brexit will mount up and it will be hard to imagine a bright future.

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In my opinion, there were many mistakes made by the government leading up to the referendum and after it. The first mistake was the referendum itself. Prime Minister Cameron’s government had conflicting views about the UK in the EU, so he decided to introduce the ‘remain or leave’ question to the public. A multifaceted, complex decision was reduced to a binary.

It is now obvious that the politicians and the public did not understand the consequences of this vote, or the devastating aftermath that could occur. In fact, the second most googled question after the referendum was ‘what is the EU?’ proving that many people voted without considering the repercussions.

Moreover, putting the decision to vote to the general public begs the question – why were people aged 16 years not allowed to vote? After all, it would be teenagers like myself that Brexit affects the most. On the same day as the referendum, we had our own mock referendum in school. Preceding this, we had talks from both sides of the debate from eminent speakers. The results of our school referendum came out with a whopping 79% remain vote! I know many other schools had similar results. Perhaps, and one can only speculate here, that if the youth could vote, the results could have been entirely different.

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I remember talking to my friends about the results of the referendum. We were all equally shocked. One of them, who had flown into England on the day of the result, recalled how the pilot had informed them that London had a majority remain vote, so there was no need to worry.

Therefore, most of the discussions I had with my friends after the referendum results came out were about our disbelief that the country had actually opted to vote to leave the EU. Before the vote, everyone had seemed so certain that we would remain.

Shortly after the referendum’s results came out, Prime Minister Cameron resigned and Theresa May was voted in as the new Prime Minister. She promptly invoked Article 50, initially without the approval of the Parliament. This started the clock and, effectively, gave her two years to negotiate with the EU and form a deal ensuring that the UK had a negotiated Brexit.

After two years of grinding negotiations, Prime Minister May had completed her deal and turned to parliament for the final approval. They rejected her deal by a margin of 230 votes. This is the largest loss for any government vote in history. With the clock ticking, the possibility of a no-deal Brexit is becoming even more likely each time that Prime Minister May’s deal is defeated (three times so far!)

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As a teenager, I feel my opportunities to work, study, travel, collaborate and make friends in 27 other European countries will be taken away. For example, during one of my most recent school trips, we travelled to Belgium and France to visit the World War 1 battlefields. Around 30 girls and 4 teachers travelling from the UK to France and Belgium, and back again was a completely smooth journey. However, after Brexit, or in the likely scenario of a no-deal Brexit, all British citizens will have to go through immigration checks to travel within Europe. A lot will change and I don’t think I am ready for it!

I can acknowledge that people in the UK were not satisfied with being part of the EU, but I think the better solution would rather have been to REMAIN and REFORM.

(The author is a 15-year old school student in the UK. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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