Free movement, strong economy, just society: the aspirations of young Brits

For young people the UK departure from the European Union is a seismic change. They have been part of the EU for their entire life, and now the political, social and economic outcomes of Brexit are reshaping their relationship with Europe and their European peers.

The “Better Brexit for Young People” report analysed priorities of young Brits in this new context. The research collected information through 40 focus groups and a YouGov survey of more than 3,000 people. It was prepared by the London School of Economics (LSE) and youth organisation ‘My life, My Say’ for the All Parliamentary Group on a Better Brexit for Young People, a forum to communicate the views of British youth to UK parliamentarians and Brexit negotiators. These are the findings.

Young Brits want to maintain fundamental EU membership benefits – Young people involved in the study feel a strong attachment to their EU membership and the benefits that come with it. Particularly, they want to continue to be able to work in the rest of the EU, to be eligible for the Erasmus programme, and to be provided with similar rights to those guaranteed by EU laws (residency, workers rights, disability rights etc.).

They aim at a strong economy – A strong economy that provides adequate schooling, higher education, jobs and housing is one of the priorities they expressed. They are concerned that the current high fee levels, lack of housing mobility, and low-paid, unsatisfying jobs will worsen with Brexit. Around 76% of YouGov survey respondents aged 18-24 believe that it’s either extremely (58%) or very (18%) important that university education, public transport and housing are made affordable for everyone. In addition, young people want a strong EU and global trade partnerships with the UK.

I know that there’s people who voted to leave who aren’t racist or whatever. Of course not. But it is kind of a validation of some of the views in relation to free movement and what not that do come from a hateful place, and I’m just scared that in a way it’s going to encourage that sort of mindset. FEMALE, 15-21, ENGLAND [ENGLAND 5]

They want a just, cohesive society – A high number of those surveyed is concerned about the rise of intolerance and racism after Brexit, which they felt “reflected a consensus that Brexit had somehow granted ‘permission’ to UK citizens to act in a hostile manner towards immigrants living in the UK”. They ask to build an open, cohesive and fair society, which will fight injustice and inequality, and promote international relations with both EU and non-EU countries.

The most important thing is to have economic certainty. That whatever the negotiations happen they won’t cause either a meltdown in the UK economy or the global economy. Because for young people, we’re going to bear these consequences for the rest of our lives. MALE, 18-26, LONDON [LONDON 3]

They call for better education – Young people want the UK to improve domestic educational provision and funding, reduce fees, and guarantee higher education opportunities in the EU. Many link such improvements to their capacity to build financially viables futures.


Silvia Martelli ©  all rights reserved.
Photo © European Union, 2017, EC Audiovisual Service / Nikolay Doychinov.

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