By Amy Longland
As we enter the crucial parliamentary debate on the Brexit debate, politicians risk repeating the same old mistake – ignoring our country’s young. Brexit happened two years ago and we still know nothing – that’s why 80,000 people have joined me in signing a petition calling on the Prime Minister to talk to us about what is happening with the negotiations.
During the General Election Theresa May refused to take part in televised debates. So we have never had the chance to hear directly from our own Prime Minister and for her to hear directly from us. To put it simply, that was not good enough.
Since the EU referendum, we have seen a rise of political activism amongst young people across the UK. I, like many other young people at the time, began campaigning for a Brexit that will work for my generation – because we will live with the decision the longest.
From Bolton to Warsaw, I have been touring the UK and Europe with My Life My Say to gather the views of young people and it is clear that they are crying out for a meaningful input on the Brexit negotiations.
A report recently released by the the APPG on a Better Brexit for Young People and LSE entitled Building Bridges: A Youth Vision for a Common Future, confirmed that young people still feel completely sidelined in the Brexit negotiations, and believe that the aggressive political debate conducted mainly between Westminster elites will only damage any prospects for positive and productive negotiations.
With all the politicians squabbling over Brexit, fighting amongst themselves, and the media creating a circus of them, it’s no wonder that people have no idea what is going on or feel like they have a say. It’s no wonder the Prime Minister is struggling to negotiate a Brexit that works for British youth.
So five months ago I started a petition calling on Theresa May to agree to a Question Time-style Q&A with the general public. 80,000 signatures later and with just four months until we leave the European Union – the Prime Minister and Jeremy Corbyn have finally agreed to participate in a Leader’s Debate.
Undoubtedly, this is a positive step – but these discussions can only be so useful if they continue to overlook the concerns of those who will live with the outcome the longest – the youth.
With the Government being found in contempt of Parliament and the Commons row taking place over the publishing of legal advice, the resignations of key Brexit secretaries and the push for vote of no-confidence in the PM, it’s crucial that TV broadcasters don’t follow in the footsteps of the bickering politicians.
it’s even more crucial that wherever the debate takes place, young people’s concerns and questions are at the forefront of the conversation. I urge the broadcasters of the Leaders Debate to collect the questions of a range young people across the UK with differing views and give them adequate attention. We need to be heard and we deserve answers. This is our Brexit too.
Amy Longland is chief operating officer of My Life, My Say, an international, youth led, non-partisan charity