A future we didn’t want - what Brexit means to me

UQ second-year business management student Elizabeth Brown has travelled home to England for the semester break, where she voted in the Brexit referendum and is now mulling over the implications of the result.

“The older generation have decided a future that the younger generation do not want”.  I think this statement reflects the feelings of the majority of younger voters at this time.  Being British means I was able to vote in the European Union referendum on 23 June. I’m from Liverpool; a city which owes so much to the EU. Liverpool was once one of the world's biggest ports and wealthiest cities, however this prosperity did not last. Fast forward to the 1980s and the city was deprived and suffering. When Westminster had written off and ignored Liverpool, the EU was able to see the potential and invested, providing it with much needed facilities such as improved public transport, public spaces, museums and art galleries. This kick-started investment from elsewhere and helped the city grow into what it is today - so inevitably, I voted to remain.

A sign in Liverpool's city.
An EU sign in Liverpool.

In the days following the referendum, there has definitely been a strange atmosphere here which I would interpret as anger, fear and also excitement. Clearly, the majority of the younger generation (the generation which I belong to) are angry. Talking to my friends who also voted to remain, I think we are in agreement in feeling as if we have been stripped of the opportunities that our parents and grandparents had. For example, we no longer have the opportunity to live in and travel freely to 27 countries. We are angry that a referendum was even called in the first place when it was clearly only held to fix divides in the conservative party and to win votes from fringe parties during the general election. This is also a time of fear: the pound is at its lowest point in decades, billions have been wiped off the market and there is a very real possibility that the country will be plunged into recession. Political instability is also currently a major issue for the country and has come at a time when we need stability the most. The prime minister has resigned and the majority of the shadow cabinet have also stepped down in an attempt to remove their leader who is refusing to go. However, there is a sense of excitement. After all, the majority did vote to leave and people are excited at the prospect of change. There are areas of the country that were damaged by the EU, including the North East whose fishing industry was decimated due to regulations such as the Common Fisheries Policy. Despite the majority of the electorate voting to leave, they are definitely the quieter camp - possibly due to the stigma of being labelled ‘racist’, a label fabricated by the remaining camp due to issues such as free movement and the migrant crisis. However, in almost all instances this label is not true. I have spoken to friends my age and family who voted to leave and the reason they gave seems to be to protect parliamentary sovereignty and to stop the EU from imposing their sometimes ludicrous regulations.

Elizabeth at Albert Dock, Liverpool.

Although I voted to remain, I can see that in the long run there may be some benefits. Many feel that the EU is unrecognisable from its well-intended origins and is simply not what we signed up to in the first place. In my opinion, the most important benefit is parliamentary sovereignty; we will now able to create all of our laws and will no longer be slaves to the often difficult and confusing EU ones. We may also be able to better control immigration now there is no free movement and there is talk of introducing a point system based on the Australian and Canadian ones. Now, we will no longer have an obligation to bail countries such as Greece out of their financial crises. Ultimately, I hope that the UK’s exit will prompt some level of reform for the EU, especially now that there is talk from other members of calling referendums and if the EU does not act, this could very well spell disaster.

Ultimately, I, nor anyone, knows what the future holds following the decision or what this means for myself or the country. Exiting will be a long and complicated process lasting many years. Honestly, I’m not even sure that the UK will be much different out of the EU than it was in and I don’t think that this will be the revolution that the leave voters had in mind, as in order have access to benefits such as the single market, we will still need to obey EU regulations. There is also talk of Scotland holding a second independence referendum just two years after their first ‘once in a lifetime’ one, as the majority of Scottish voters voted to remain. This would split up the UK which could have a domino effect on Wales and Ireland also wanting to leave. And even if there is no independence referendum, Scotland’s first minister has stated that she would consider vetoing the decision, ignoring the will of 52% of voters which in my opinion suggests that she doesn’t believe in democracy, and its likely that Scotland doesn’t really have the power to do this.

Albert Dock, Liverpool. The dock was derelict before EU investment.

Although currently times are rocky, things must stabilise soon. For example, there’s hope of establishing trade agreements with the USA who have stated that our ‘special relationship’ will continue despite Obama saying that we would be “at the back of the line”, and the EU has promised a smooth exit. Of course this is an interesting time for not only the UK but also the world, but I have faith in the democratic process and hope that the dust will soon settle and that we are able to once again be the prosperous independent nation we once were.

Last updated:
30 June 2016