Why a blind Brexit could devastate the future of young Brits

PUBLISHED: 11:23 26 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:06 26 October 2018

Femi Oluwole

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Can we really leave a whole new generation of Brits with such a broken future, asks FEMI OLUWOLE of Our Future, Our Choice

Now we’ve all heard the doom and gloom predictions about how Brexit would screw the economy. Frankly, there have been so many claimed figures around this issue that it’s hard to keep up, or even know what to believe. The reason for that is that everyone is so busy arguing about whether Brexit would hurt us, nobody ever explains how Brexit would hurt us.

So before I tell you the results of a recent study by Our Future, Our Choice called ‘Young People and Brexit’ that looked at Brexit’s impact on our futures, I’m going to explain why we are looking down the barrel of a blind Brexit which could devastate our the futures of young Brits across the country.

Basically, the report looks into how Brexit would affect young people (SPOILER ALERT: It’s bad). I’m going to quickly explain some stuff about the benefits we get from the EU so you can decide for yourself if you want to believe the figures.

Forget the EU for a second and just picture 28 random countries across the world. They’re hundreds of miles apart, have their own laws about things like food safety, and put their own tariffs on things they import.

Let’s say you lived in one of those countries and wanted to sell to the other 27.

First, you’ve got to pay for the transport costs of getting your countries to products in other continents. Then you’ve got to pay the tariffs for getting your stuff physically into those other countries. And then after that you might have to make up to 28 different versions of your product so they’re legal in each of the countries, which would make things really expensive for everyone.

So how is the EU different? The countries are close by, so it makes sense to do more trade with the EU than with anyone else, which we do. The EU’s Customs Union means there are no tariff costs between EU countries. The EU’s Single Market is basically a system of making laws together and accepting each other’s products. All of this makes things cheaper for us when we’re shopping.

For example, it means companies like Nissan know they can set up factories and create jobs here because they know that anything they make here is automatically legal across Europe. That keeps costs low for them. It also means we can go set up businesses in any EU country we like and our UK qualifications are automatically recognised so we can go and work in any EU country.

So let’s do this. According to the report, even if we get the closest possible relationship with the EU, which covers a lot of the benefits above, aka 'Norway-style Brexit', then between now and 2050 young people will lose a combined £7,000-32,000 in earnings over the 31-year period. If we get a free trade deal similar to the one the EU has with Canada it’ll be about £30,000-72,000. However, if we leave the EU without a deal, the report says that the losses to young people’s earnings will add up to £44,000-108,000.

The foreword was written by Sir John Major, and the report’s conclusions are endorsed by esteemed Oxford University economist Will Hutton. Additionally, the hard numbers backing up the report were calculated by an Oxford University economist. This is serious, credible research, by serious, credible people.

Now, even among young people, in the short term, it will be the youngest who will struggle the most. We all know how hard it is finding your first job… for 18-21 year olds, under WTO terms (no deal) they would lose £675/year compared to what they would otherwise have earned. If Theresa May’s Chequers proposal goes through, it would be £400/year. For 22-29 year olds, under WTO terms they would lose £830/year, and under Chequers it would be £500/year.

But let’s make it real. I mentioned Nissan above. Their factory in Sunderland supports about 35,000 jobs in the North East and 75% of the cars it makes go to mainland Europe. The Japanese ambassador has said several times that Japanese companies put their factories in the UK because we’re in the EU Single Market.

So those jobs are at risk. That means real families with less bread on the table. That means mortgages going unpaid, tax receipts inadequate to fund decent education, and the vitality of communities shrinking.

Can we really leave a whole new generation of Brits with such a broken future, in the name of a Brexit that even those who voted for it are deeply disappointed by?

Femi Oluwole is Chief Spokesperson at Our Future, Our Choice, the largest youth campaign for a People’s Vote. You can read the report in full on ofoc.co.uk.

Femi's petition can be accessed at change.org here

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