Politics 12 December 2018 | 11:20

While parliament navel gazes, young people are taking action

12 December 2018 11:20

Right now, hundreds of young people are standing in the lobby of Parliament. While politicians push past us (or, in many cases, avoid the lobby entirely), we will stand together and wait for our scheduled meetings.

We have called our MPs, we have written to their offices, and now, having in many cases been brushed off or ignored entirely, we are here. We have come from far and wide, travelling many miles to make sure that our voices are respected. Our main thought for the last few days has been that it shouldn’t be this difficult: the fact that we have to arrive in person, missing school, university, and work, just so that our concerns are taken seriously is nothing short of outrageous.

But now that we’re here, we feel comforted. It might be easy to delete a constituent’s email, but a physical crowd of them cannot be dealt with so simply. We will be heard and, what’s more, we will have answers.

We need answers for the disgraceful behaviour of our government, especially in the last week. Their proven contempt of Parliament is astounding and in less tumultuous times would be treated with the horror it deserves. It’s a sign of the times that we barely have enough time to be shocked at one scandal before another rears its head.

Moments of reprieve, such as the heroic stand by Dominic Grieve for the power of the commons in the form of his amendment, are few and far between. A series of disappointments and betrayals has taken over the news cycle. The prime minister’s decision to delay the vote on her Brexit deal is an act of cowardice, as is her self-imposed exile in Europe; a wholly transparent last-ditch attempt to postpone the inevitable leadership contest.

The leadership contest will once more contribute to the mess that politicians have created in the last two years; a mess that we are increasingly certain they are incapable of cleaning up. Any claims by her that she can renegotiate the terms of our departure from the EU should be met with the derision that they deserve.

We need answers regarding our futures, which are being gambled away by a leadership that won’t take us seriously and by an opposition that won’t defend us. Young people and students will be hit both hardest and longest by this botched Brexit deal – that we didn’t vote for – and rather than protecting us, our politicians have abandoned us.

This is unacceptable. It is unpleasant to be forced to bargain for rights that should be self-evident (such as sufficient medicine and food, job security and freedom of movement), but a stance based in realpolitik will no doubt garner more attention and the diligence we are due. Today’s young people are the voting base of tomorrow. In these terms, our futures directly affect the future of politicians currently in power. They would do well to listen, at the very least, to this.

If our politicians can’t help us, the least they can do is let us help ourselves. The only way out of this mess is to return power to the people in the form of a final say on Brexit – a People’s Vote. We, who weren’t allowed to decide on our own futures two years ago, are owed this. We, who have been ignored since then, are demanding this – loudly. We, who, quite simply, have had enough, will get it.

Cathleen Clarke from Our Future Our Choice and Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson For our Future’s Sake