The youth are the greatest thing for politicians. You can invoke their safety in the present to get laws passed, refer to them poetically as ‘the future’ (while retiring long before they realise how much debt they get to inherit) and if opponents accuse you of cynicism for chasing their votes, then you can shame them for attacking defenceless youngsters and tell them that they are on the wrong side of history.
The approaching EU referendum represents a battle slightly more between ideologies than personalities, and Britain’s millennials are nothing if not idealistic: two-thirds of young voters who favour EU membership are expected to employ their emotional blackmail persuasive talents against the two-thirds of elder voters who think otherwise. The price of leaving would be severe, the Government and its allies warn: air travel and roaming costs will rise and enrolment at European universities will be refused.
And young Britons take these threats seriously. They reason that if the immediate costs of Brexit are so dire, what might the future bring for the country they inherit? These same people have often been happy to take out student loans, to leave their parents’ houses and venture into an uncertain jobs market. But if you’re prepared to make use of your regained sovereignty and force accountability on the government after Brexit, it could also present manifold unconsidered opportunities.
What if you petitioned the government to use EU contribution savings to finance tax cuts? It could remove inheritance and capital gains taxes. Worried about expensive flights? Abolish air passenger duty and the climate change levy. These cuts would represent only £11bn of Britain’s £19bn annual gross EU bill.
If you think Brexit will leave the country vulnerable, the rest of that money can be used to finish building Britain’s aircraft carriers and equip them with dozens of F-35s. But why bother if you won’t need to use them on the EU’s behalf against Russia?
Suddenly the outlook is richer and safer.
As forpeople who want to work or study in Europe, if you excel at your profession or subject, no amount of visa applications will present a problem. And there are plenty of countries outside Europe that speak French, Spanish and Portuguese. Or do you only feel comfortable around English-speaking people?
You should be pretty excited about getting national sovereignty back at the same time as you take on the responsibilities of adulthood. A free Britain will only be as good as the efforts you make, but that’s kind of why people romanticise independence. If it’s good enough for South Sudan, it’s good enough for you.
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