Among the speakers at the March for Sunderland, one point was emphasised: young people will be the most affected by Brexit, so we need to make our voices heard. I spoke to Femi Oluwole, spokesperson for Our Future Our Choice, about the ways that we can do that.
I wanted to ask you: how do you feel about the lack of students here today?
I think it’s disappointing, but I mean, quite simply, the Brexit debate has been so clouded that young people don’t have anything to latch onto. It is quite simple: Brexit creates barriers between us and our biggest trading partners, which makes the UK a less attractive place to create jobs, and young people need jobs. We also need stuff to be cheap, and again, if we create barriers between us and our biggest trading partners (the ones that are right on our doorstep), it’s gonna make things more expensive. Young people need two things: we need jobs, and for stuff to be cheap. So quite simply, Brexit goes directly against our needs.
Other than marches and protests, what are some of the best ways you think young people can get politicians to listen to us?
Make sure you tweet at your MPs and make Facebook posts… record videos! Explain how you feel- if politicians see that their future voters are gonna be really pissed if Brexit actually happens, their going to be scared.
How do you believe that a no-deal Brexit will affect students, particularly international students?
Well, a no-deal Brexit is absolutely gobsmacking it’s crazy. It means that the 1.4 million British people that are living across the other side of the channel could lose their right to live there. We need options, there are reasons that ERASMUS is so great, because it means that after university you’ve got that experience of living in another country, it means that you’ve got options… people are stripping (us) of the right to live, work and love in any country across Europe. It is our birth right as British citizens to see those countries. My best year at university- of my life- was my ERASMUS year. Because it was a language course, it was ninety percent women, so it was the most romantically complicated year of my entire life. It was amazing.
I personally couldn’t vote during Brexit (because I was only sixteen), which is the same for a lot of students in my year. Do you think that sixteen-year-olds should have had the right to vote for whether we stayed in the EU or not?
Sixteen-year-olds are currently allowed to work, which means they’re allowed to contribute to this economy. Yet, the economy is being trashed by a decision that they weren’t allowed to be part of. It’s fundamentally wrong.
What are your thoughts on the fact that Theresa May said Britain was “unafraid” to leave the EU?
I think she needs to ask us first before she tells us what we are willing to accept.