Anger and Disbelief Among Young Britons After EU Referendum

Young voters feel let down by their elders, who voted to withdraw Britain from the EU.

British parliament London
Westminster Palace in London, England at night, December 21, 2011 (Ben Sutherland)

Much has been written in recent days about what the vote to leave the European Union has managed to bring upon the United Kingdom: a rudderless government, a Labour Party in crisis and threats of Scottish independence.

What about the everyday? Obviously the world did not implode on Thursday and life is going on, people commuting to and from work. Yet there is a palpable sense of loss, uncertainty, perhaps even shock — especially among the young.

The referendum revealed stark divisions, not just between the constituent nations of the United Kingdom but within England itself and between generations. It is these divisions that have led to the current somber atmosphere.

Future denied

If you are under thirty, chances are you voted to remain and can relate to this comment in the Financial Times that has been making the rounds:

The younger generation has lost the right to live and work in 27 other countries. We will never know the full extent of the lost opportunities, friendships, marriages and experiences we will be denied. Freedom of movement was taken away by our parents, uncles and grandparents in a parting blow to a generation that was already drowning in the debts of our predecessors.

Alongside this, there has been an open letter written on behalf of the 48 percent.

Among the young, the mood is one of anger and disbelief.

Spirit of 2012

For others, there is a sense that the success of the leave campaign has served to justify xenophobia.

Indeed, in the days since the referendum, over one hundred instances of hate crimes have been reported to the police, writes The Independent.

Many hope this will blow over and the country will settle down. Many long for the summer of 2012 when a united and tolerant Britain hosted the Olympics and celebrated Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee.

Those days feel long gone today.