On 23 June 2016, the UK held a ground breaking referendum to decide whether we should remain within the European Union or leave it. The outcome – and the issues associated with implementing it – have come to dominate politics in this country ever since. The decision to leave will affect every aspect of public life. For young people, this decision will shape the future of this country and the wider world in many ways. Those who turn 18 in March 2019 will spend their entire adult lives in a country which is not part of the EU. The process of implementing the decision to leave the EU had made crystal clear that this is not a decision which can easily be reversed. It is very much a once in a generation decision.
GIVING THE 2 MILLION A VOICE.
2 million young people will have come of voting age between 23 June 2016 and 29 March 2019. This campaign calls for them to have the right to express their view on this crucial issue before the transition period finally ends.
The campaign is not politically aligned; it is neither a call to line young people up behind the existing decision nor is it an attempt to bolster calls for the UK to remain in the EU. It is simply a recognition that this group of some 2 million have been disenfranchised from democratic participation in a decision which will profoundly affect their lives and which cannot be easily reviewed after four or five years.
Of course, at every general election, there is a cohort who turn 18 the next day and who are denied the opportunity to influence the nature of the Government for that parliament. But within 4 or 5 years, that position is always rectified. Their vote the next time round can contribute to a complete change in Government and in its policies. On this one issue, that is not true.
WHAT DO WE WANT?
This is a campaign to give a voice to this very specific group – those too young to vote in the
referendum who will have turned 18 on or before the date of the UK’s departure from Europe.
We are calling on Government to hold an additional referendum for this group before 29 March
2019, for their votes to be added to the existing total and for the UK Government to act in
accordance with any change in the mandate that results. That means that if the total number of
votes in favour of leaving is increased, the Government can see its mandate as strengthened,
underpinned by the support of those whose whole adult lives will be spent out of Europe. And if the
new referendum brings a different majority, the Government will accept that outcome and suspend
Brexit – for the same reasons.
We recognise that all young people under 18 on 23 June 2016 have been denied a vote on this
crucial issue. But we are only campaigning for a referendum for this specific group. Because only
they have to assume the responsibilities of adulthood as the world they have grown up in changes
significantly – but without an opportunity to influence that change.