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.
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?