The London School of Economics (LSE) has launched an exciting initiative which seeks to discover what young adults aged 16–35 want from Brexit. Apart from English, it is now available in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish, and Greek.  The Generation Brexit project is gathering young people’s attitudes towards Brexit, in order to ensure their proper representation in the process. David Kingman (Intergenerational Foundation) reports and outlines how you can get involved.

Generation Brexit

Generation Brexit is a way of crowd-sourcing ideas and opinions from young people using an online social media platform. To take part, all you have to do is go to the project’s website and sign up (which you can do using one of your existing social media accounts). Generation Brexit sets out the key “Brexit Challenges”, which are the big dilemmas facing both Britain and the EU as they try to negotiate the terms of our departure, such as the cost of the so-called “divorce bill” or the future rights of British and EU citizens living in one another’s countries.

Generation Brexit is a way of crowd-sourcing ideas and opinions from young people

The platform provides a detailed guide to the key issues surrounding each of these challenges and then invites you to write a post in which you can give your views about how you want them to be resolved. Everybody can read everyone else’s posts, and the platform lets you comment on them and give each one either a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. The website lets you view peoples’ posts in order of how many votes they have received and has a leader board which ranks members in order of how they well their posts have done, so you can see whether what you said is having an impact on how other people think about these hugely important issues.

Although Generation Brexit was only launched a few months ago it has already attracted a large number of contributors, but more are needed to capture the widest possible spectrum of peoples’ views from both the Leave and Remain sides of the debate.

The LSE researchers behind the project want to run it in two phases: the current phase is asking young people for their opinions on the biggest questions concerning Britain’s actual “divorce” from the EU, while the second phase (to be launched later this year) will ask a different set of questions which relate to what young people want from the UK and the EU’s future relationship. They are planning to gather together all of the views that are posted on Generation Brexit in a report that will be presented to both the UK government and the EU once the project has finished.

young people are the ones who are going to have to live with Brexit for longer than anyone else in the UK

Why does this matter?

What young people want out of Brexit is a really important question to ask, for several reasons. Firstly, young people are the ones who are going to have to live with Brexit for longer than anyone else in the UK, so they have a right to campaign for the type of future relationship between Britain and Europe that they want. Secondly, the available evidence strongly suggests that Brexit was a big issue for younger voters at our recent general election, so it is clearly a subject that they feel passionately about, belying the caricature that young people are politically apathetic. Thirdly, young people don’t have very long to make their feelings on Brexit known: the official negotiating period can only last a maximum of 24 months from March 2017, and most of the big decisions will need to be taken over the next year in order for there to be time to ratify an agreement before March 2019. So for young people who are concerned about Britain’s future relationship with the EU Generation Brexit has come along at the perfect time to make their voices heard.

young people don’t have very long to make their feelings on Brexit known

The Intergenerational Foundation is pleased to support Generation Brexit, and it ties in with a new piece of research that we will be publishing in the near future that looks at how young people voted in the EU referendum and what that can tell us about what they want from Brexit.

The article gives the views of the author, not the position of LSE Brexit or the London School of Economics. 

David Kingman is a Doctoral Researcher at UCL and Senior Researcher at the Intergenerational Foundation.

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