Dear Jeremy, our generation is set to receive the worst inheritance in peacetime history. The NHS limps from crisis to crisis. The housing market excludes us further each day: in the 1990s, over half of 25-34s owned a home – today barely a quarter do. We might be regarded as the generation to go to university in record numbers, but we do so at the cost of an average £50,000 of debt. And still graduates are luckier than the 790,000 young people not in education, employment or training.
We live in a capitalist economy without capital. It is no wonder that over one in five young people now think that, no matter how hard they try, their life will amount to nothing. In understanding this crisis of optimism, you have given hope to many.
But understanding this is pointless if Brexit goes ahead. It is by far the worst aspect of our inheritance. It will make us much poorer, cut us off from our closest friends and leave us unable to address problems that require international cooperation to solve – such as climate change and rampant inequality. It will deny us opportunities and deprive us of the right to live, work, and love anywhere in Europe. It will rob us of the internationally engaged Britain that we know we want. These are just a few of the reasons why 75% of young people voted to remain.
In the 2017 election, your surge in support mainly came from those who are angry about what is happening to Britain. This extends beyond young people – anyone under the age of 50 tended to support remain in 2016 and then Labour in 2017. The reason for this surge is because we are our angry about our future. Like you, we are appalled by the problems our society faces. But leaving the EU will only exacerbate these issues. The Bank of England tells us that, because of Brexit, we will be £200m a week poorer this year. This is money that should have been channelled into fixing hospitals, schools, and prisons which warrant our urgent attention, and yet receive less by the day. It is hopeless to fight for the radical change society needs while supporting a Brexit that will leave us unable to deliver it.
Jeremy, you should remember that there will be a time when our generation ages. We will soon confront the reality of what we have been left, and if we do not like it we will simply reverse it. If it is a soft Brexit, which represents nothing but a minor loss of sovereignty, then we will return to our seat at the table. If it is a hard Brexit, we will be so furious with the wanton destruction inflicted on us that we will knock down any and all of the barriers imposed between us and Europe.
We need your help to persuade the country to democratically stop Brexit and deliver the radical change society needs. Brexit will define our country’s future, but will affect the young more than most. We need you to fight for our future, not facilitate a drastic blow to it. We need you to fight for a referendum on the withdrawal deal, and then join us in persuading our parents and grandparents to choose a constructive, not destructive, legacy. You have never compromised on what is right before, Jeremy, do not start on the most important issue of our time.
• Femi Oluwole is co-founder of Our Future, Our Choice!