Brexit is bad news! But we can stop it

PUBLISHED: 16:00 28 February 2018

Participants who took part in the March for Europe. Photo: PA.

Participants who took part in the March for Europe. Photo: PA.

DPA/PA Images

WILLIAM DRY is the co-founder of a new youth group determined to harness the power of a generation which feels cheated by Brexit. He explains how it can apply pressure in critical ways.

For those unfamiliar with the latest internet slang and acronyms, the letters OFOC are often used to indicate ‘overwhelming feelings of concern’. Of course, if you read out the word you get the same sense, if a little more crudely put.

It is exactly this feeling that has led to the creation of our new campaign, which fittingly uses the same initials. Our Future, Our Choice (OFOC!) has been set up by a group of young people determined to find a democratic way to stop Brexit. We launched this month with an open letter to Jeremy Corbyn, calling on his to fight for a referendum on the withdrawal deal, and with some polling which shows the depth of feeling on this issue among young people.

The numbers are astounding. Three quarters of young people think Brexit is the wrong decision. That figure is 17% higher than it was at the time of the referendum. My generation hates Brexit. The task of OFOC! is to mobilise that energy and despair.

So far, the response of many young people to Brexit has been one of muted resignation. We have grown conditioned to the daily dose of bad news that Brexit brings. This must change. The sense of pessimism and acceptance must turn to anger. We should be livid that our future is being shaped by not only truly incompetent people, but truly incompetent people we fundamentally disagree with.

My generation offers the best chance of Brexit being stopped. The young are best placed to persuade Corbyn to jump off the fence. This year, as the government chooses what type of Brexit they want, Labour must choose as well.

As the young grow increasingly angry at what this government is doing to their future, they will demand parties that actually offer something different. Our polling revealed that while 28% of 18-24 year olds would support Labour, with its current stance on Brexit, the figure jumps to 46% if the party were to oppose Brexit.

The idea that Labour’s current policy – at its core, a cynical, meaningless, obfuscation – is a politically astute move to keep the support of both the young and the working class supporters in Labour’s heartlands is flat-out wrong. A Labour party opposed to Brexit either increases or maintains its support with every age group, every social class, and every region.

We will fight to convince Corbyn that it is not only electorally right to oppose Brexit, but also the principled thing to do. He must oppose, not appease, the drastic blow to our future that Brexit is. Otherwise, he will be aiding the chaos capitalists, and emboldening and empowering the xenophobes and demagogues he has always derided.

My generation is also best placed to convince our parents and grandparents – especially those who voted Brexit, but are now open to changing their mind. We must convince them that Brexit is not democratically sustainable.

Whether my generation inherits a soft or a hard Brexit, we will still be able to re-join the EU. But it will be on worse terms than those we have now, and we will, in the intervening years, have wasted a lot of time, energy and money. Seen this way, we must ask the elder generation what legacy they want to leave behind.

Do they want to leave behind something that has made us poorer and less influential and that we will have reverse, or do they want to tackle the real problems facing the country, like a failing housing market and an NHS stuck in permanent crisis?

So, New Europeans, whatever your generation, we need your help. We need to mobilise like never before. We need to take our arguments to Corbyn, to sensible Tories, and to soft Leavers.

The political struggle of our lifetime has come early. We have not lost yet. And, if we do everything we can, we might just win it.

William Dry is a second year student at Oxford University and co-founder of OFOC! For more information, follow @OFOCBrexit or @william_dry and visit www.ofoc.co.uk

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