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Europe: The Final Countdown

How Brexit Is Already Screwing Over Young People

The UK hasn't even left the EU yet, but the fallout from the vote is already robbing millennials of their prospects.

by Salma Haidrani and Yasmin Jeffery
28 July 2016, 12:00am

Photo by Chris Bethell

Young people in the UK overwhelmingly didn't vote for Brexit. Because why on earth would they? Hey, undergraduate, want to ruin the economy and prevent yourself from studying abroad? No way! Young professional, want to make it way harder and a lot more expensive to go on vacation? Nope! Definitely not! Well-informed 20-something, want to blame immigration for absolutely everything wrong with the UK? Of course not! Because you're not a complete idiot!

Still, the Leave campaign stole it, so there's not much we can do now but wait to see how much we're screwed over in the long run. In the short term, however, things aren't looking great—we haven't even left the EU yet, but young people are already feeling the effects of the vote in a very real way.

We spoke to a few to find out exactly how it's affected them.

Katie, 23, Derby

I'm currently studying my MA in translation, and Brexit has hugely damaged my career prospects. EU laws protecting workers' rights and funding languages and translation will be taken away soon, making it a lot harder for translators like me to find well-paid work. It's the EU that helps us set decent rates: about $115 per 1,000 words, which may sound like a lot, but it's actually a good few days' work to complete. Without EU help, we could see this fall to $40 or less.

Also, how will I negotiate with my foreign business partners now? Of course, I could go abroad to do these negotiations in person—but oh, wait, a lack of free movement might stop that. We are now no longer protected from flight taxes, so getting there will cost more. This is more money that I don't have, thanks to my lowered job prospects and the ruined economy—not to mention the fact my pounds will be worthless after converting them to euros.

The Brexit result has been devastating for me. I feel like my future is bleak. I feel like I've spent, like, $65,000 on a career that is going to fall down a black hole. I feel so devastated that people didn't consider the real-world repercussions. We certainly have taken our county back: to the dark ages where we're now stuck and all alone.

Susanna, 18, Harrogate

I voted to stay in the EU. As much as I'm heartbroken by the outcome, I'm more worried by the consequences I will potentially face in the future as a result. In September, I'm going to begin a languages degree, and one of the key parts is the year abroad. I knew, as a language student, that leaving the EU would impact the future of the scheme. I was so excited by Erasmus. It's such a big part of my degree, and I was looking forward to living abroad and experiencing another culture. There's no better way to learn a language than to experience it firsthand in the country it is spoken.

The possibility of British students like myself being excluded from this scheme because of something most of us young people didn't vote for breaks my heart. I am worried that I won't get the opportunity to go ahead and experience it myself, something that my own mother did when she did her languages degree more than 20 years ago. I really hope that the scheme can stay in place for years to come.

I do feel that my future has been robbed. Fortunately, I am dual nationality already as I am full Italian but was born here in the UK. I'm so grateful that I have an Italian passport as well as a British passport, as I'm sure it will make my life a lot easier over these next few years.

Joshua, 25, Coventry

Everyone talked about "getting our country back" as literally the only argument for leaving. I think the old generation all voted to leave because of reasons that won't really won't affect them in the long run, like immigration and getting more money for the NHS—which I don't think will happen anyway. Everything about the Leave campaign was a lie, and that's why the majority of them are backtracking on everything they said.

I work hard all year in construction and now my vacation is costing me around $650 more because of the shit exchange rate. I'm having to go into my savings to get that little extra bit of cash. It's just annoying, not least because I'm trying to save for a house at the same time. It costs an absolute fortune to buy a house regardless, and it's going to become harder and harder to buy one now.

Mark, 28

I work for a company that manufactures and supplies a range of building products that are all made in Europe, but we sell them in the UK. We also sell them worldwide, but our investors are very wary at the moment because there is so much uncertainty over here. We buy everything with euros, and we're now making up to 30 percent less on all of our sales than we were previously because the pound is struggling, which is honestly the nicest way to put it.

No politicians have confirmed what's going to happen or when it's going to happen, which means our investors are basically looking at whether they're going to pull out of the UK because we're making so little money. Because my job is the head of UK sales, if we're not selling in the country, there's not really a position for me. So it's a pretty strange time at the moment—I'm in limbo, but I'm going to find out at the end of this month whether I'm going to be made redundant or not, and it's an example of how people don't realize how much we rely on Europe, as well as Europe relies on us.

I'm a realist; I know sales jobs are easy to pick up when the economy is booming and things are great, but on the flip side of that, with all this uncertainty around the economy, people and businesses probably aren't going to be looking to hire as much as they were. I've had a look about just in case, but there doesn't seem to be much out there that would help me advance my career at my age, so to speak. It's fair enough, too: Why would people invest in the country if they don't know what the political situation is likely to be? I don't think anyone's under any illusions that we have a solution for a long-term problem. It's things like this that the people who have voted to leave don't realize will happen, and how they'll be influenced. The future is bleak, and no one's doing anything about it.

Merisha, 24

There are family members I don't speak to any more as a result of Brexit. Not because of the way they voted, but the disgusting comments they made about immigration that I didn't agree with. As the daughter of an immigrant, I'm not willing to stand by some of my family members any longer. I also keep hearing people around me saying "the economy will get better, it's just for the moment," but nothing good has happened yet; it's all going to depend on the deal our government can do with the EU.

Politically, we're a mess, and I'm not sure it's going to get any better. We are one of the laughing stocks of the world, with a government that ran away when it needed to take control and continue what it fought for. This vote has shown the true colors of people in terms of xenophobia and bigotry; it's truly split the nation. There are too many people on both sides blaming one another for the way they voted and too much name-calling and pettiness. Unfortunately, this is the decision that's happened, and we're going to have to live with it, even if a lot of us don't want to.

Bethany, 19

I really wanted to study abroad for my master's, but because I've only just finished my first year, by the time we actually leave it might mean I can't secure Erasmus funding, which would make it pretty much impossible for me to go. On top of my own worries, I feel like the UK is in self-destruct mode and that we're becoming increasingly isolated. Knowing that we're stuck on this little island makes me want to go and live somewhere else. We're going to end up building a wall like America or something, I swear. This is only the beginning.

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