Posted on Jun 29, 2018

    Young People Are Being Ignored By MPs Over Brexit, This New Campaign Says

    An open letter seen by BuzzFeed News calls on MPs to speak to 20 constituents who are under 30 before voting on the final deal this autumn.

    Matt Crossick / Empics Entertainment

    Anti-Brexit demonstrators in London on 23 June.

    MPs must step outside the Westminster bubble and listen to the views of young people before voting on the final Brexit deal, according to a major new campaign.

    Dozens of MPs and peers have signed an open letter calling on colleagues to pledge to speak to 20 constituents who are under 30 and listen to their views before taking part in critical votes this autumn.

    Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, one of the signatories, warned that young people were feeling ignored by parliament – and yet would live with the consequences of Brexit longer than most MPs.

    The letter has been organised by a coalition of nonpartisan campaign groups including My Life My Say, UK Youth, and the British Youth Council, which collectively represent more than 4 million young people in the UK.

    Signatories include Labour, Conservative, and Plaid Cymru MPs, most of whom backed Remain in the referendum. But organisers insisted that the campaign was not about trying to stop Brexit, but making sure that young people have a voice in how it happens.

    Kinnock, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on a Better Brexit for Young People, told BuzzFeed News that research showed that "young people really did feel like their voices weren't being heard".

    He said: "Most of the young people we speak with say they do actually accept the result of the referendum. But they also don't feel that the practical and sensible solutions for making it happen in a way that doesn't further divide and polarise the country are being explored.

    John Stillwell / PA Wire / PA Images

    Stephen Kinnock.

    "By talking to 20 young people in your constituency I think you probably will get to see a trend, a pattern, some kind of clarity in terms of this is what the young people in my constituency feel about this and this is what they want.

    "This is really important for an MP going into critical votes, that you're not going in based on what you were told in the members' tea room or inside the Westminster bubble.

    "Our duty as elected representatives of the people is yes, to exercise our own judgment but we should only do that having taken account of the views and priorities and concerns and hopes and fears of our constituents.

    "And in this case this is particularly important when it comes to young people – because young people will live with the consequences of Brexit for far longer than most MPs will."

    Around 70% of people aged 18-24 voted for Britain to remain in the European Union, compared to around two-thirds of people over 65 years old who voted to leave.

    A report commissioned for Kinnock's all-party group last year found that there was deep frustration among young people at decisions made by the older generations on Brexit.

    It found that young people wanted to keep Britain in the Erasmus study abroad scheme and preserve residency rights for EU citizens living in the UK and vice versa. But above all, it concluded that those who are under 30 wanted "their voices and concerns to be listened to and acted upon by politicians and policymakers".

    Kinnock insisted that the "Listen Up" campaign was not a pro-Remain one. "Many, many MPs had the opportunity to sign up to this and I wish more from the Leave camp had taken that opportunity," he said.

    "But I guess it reflects the fact that unfortunately some MPs are still impuning people's motives, assuming there's a hidden agenda, going on about 'Remoaners'.

    "I just wish that would stop because baked into this process is that we have to leave the European Union, but it's about how we leave."

    Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Emily Ashton at emily.ashton@buzzfeed.com.

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