Stephen Kinnock’s Youth Brexit APPG Off To Flying Start

by / 0 Comments / 25/01/2017

The Stephen Kinnock-chaired APPG aimed at getting a better Brexit for young people met for the first time last night in Parliament.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Better Brexit for Young People – organised by the youth-led, non-partisan movement MyLifeMySay – united a host of different youth groups throughout the UK to discuss the best ways for the voices of young people to be heard in the Government’s Brexit negotiations.

Groups included ourselves, Undivided, Bite the Ballot, The British Youth Council, Open Britain, The National Union of Students and Young Eurosceptics among many others.

Kinnock, the son of former Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock and a strong voice on the so-called Right-wing of Labour, quite candidly opened the proceedings with this rather telling statement: “Parliament, across all sides, are struggling with Brexit”.

Kinnock went on to liken Brexit to a “multi-staged process” with the triggering of Article 50, expected in March 2017, to be only the first stage.

As Kinnock explained, triggering Article 50 will deal solely with the conditions of Britain’s withdrawal or “divorce” from the European Union itself and (probably) not include any implementation of future trade deals with Europe.

That, some experts have predicted, could quite possibly take up to 10 years.

This ultimately makes the process of ‘Brexit’ an incredibly nuanced and complicated matter; something that was perhaps lost during the Referendum campaign with some of the ‘dodgy’ promises made by both sides – the £350m-a-week to the EU bus, anyone?

The APPG meeting itself – which was filled with lots of passion, enthusiasm and energy – mainly revolved around research being conducted by Dr Sam Medjias from the London School of Economics to find out what young people think of, not only Brexit, but their cultural and national identity. The research is expected to conclude in February 2017, right before Article 50 is triggered.

Certainly, when discussing the topic of a better Brexit for young people, I think it is important to acknowledge that the majority of young people who voted in June’s Referendum voted overwhelmingly to Remain (73% or so according to the Ashcroft poll). This, in spite of one’s political allegiances, has to be duly noted when moving forward and cannot be forgotten in the heat and drama of Westminster politics.

As we ourselves found out in our policy booklet, Brexit: A Youth Perspective, launched in November of last year, the EU Referendum and Leave’s subsequent victory has caused many young people across the country to seriously consider the very nature of the UK itself. For example, many of our submissions expressed genuine fear and worry about the increased levels of xenophobia and racism that have occurred since, and before, Brexit. This was also an issue raised at last night’s APPG.

Can Brexit be a good thing for young people in this country? …Time will tell. With a decade mired by economic stagnation and austerity, the “lost decade” to some, it is hard to imagine things getting any worse.

Nevertheless, this APPG is undoubtedly a positive force – especially in that MyLifeMySay have managed to successfully unite both sides of the debate: Leave & Remain. “Lift your eyes above the horizon” concluded Kinnock in the closing moments of the evening, a rather inspiring epilogue to the APPG’s first meeting.

Young people will need a voice in Brexit if they are to secure a better future for themselves, that much is clear. But are the Government listening?

Patrick Ireland is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist and entrepreneur. He completed his BA in Politics & Philosophy at the University of Sheffield in 2013 and in 2014, enrolled on the MA Filmmaking programme at the London Film School. To attend the school, Ireland was awarded a scholarship for academic excellence by The Leverhulme Trust that covered the majority of his fees. The young filmmaker previously won the Young Filmmaker’s Award at the 2008 Swale Film Festival for his first short film, Catch 21. In 2015, he completed his first documentary film, Anonymous: A Million Men, which was subsequently sold to Shorts International for distribution. Later that year, Ireland worked alongside Channel 4 and ITN Productions in producing Channel 4’s Youth Leaders Debate which aired on All 4 on the 28th of April 2015. In 2016, he graduated from the London Film School with the short film One in a Million: a social drama set in his hometown of Herne Bay, Kent. The film later screened in the Short Film Corner at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and was also nominated for multiple awards, including Best Director of a Short Film, at the 2017 International Filmmaker Festival Nice. Twitter: @PatrickWIreland