Young British people view Brexit negatively and a challenge to their future

by Ray Clancy on September 19, 2017

Young people in the UK view the decision to leave the European Union as a direct challenge to their outlook and ambitions, new research has found.

Some 41% believe that Brexit will pull people living in the UK apart, and the same percentage believing Brexit will reduce Britain’s influence in the world and only 28% feel Britain is heading in the right direction.


This was the findings from research among focus groups across the country conducted by think tank Demos for the British Council’s Next Generations series of reports.

After the Brexit vote in June 2016 it was suggested that it was older people who tended to vote to leave the EU and the research appears to back this idea up.

Many participants in the focus groups were worried about the impacts Brexit would have on their lives, prospects, and future plans, including limiting their opportunities to work and study in other countries.

The survey also found that there is substantial appetite amongst young adults for broadening horizons and working in different places over the course of their careers in either another region of the UK, an EU country or a country outside Europe.

The research also found that significant socio-economic disparities persist, with almost a quarter of young people having not participated in any international experiences whatsoever.

The report suggests that the Government should provide clear assurances during the Brexit negotiation period on protecting and securing opportunities for young adults travelling, working, and studying abroad.

It also suggests that employers, careers advisers, education providers, and civil society organisations should commit to a culture of lifelong international engagement, widening the scope of international work and study partnerships.

‘As the UK enters an unprecedented period of uncertainty, it’s vital that the issues important to young people are taken seriously. Our research confirms that many young adults feel frustrated with an education system and labour market that doesn’t work for them,’ said the report’s author Ian Wybron, head of social policy at Demos.

‘Our research is also clear, in light of the UK’s momentous decision to leave the EU, that concerns over Brexit at the forefront of many young adults’ thinking. Young adults want reassurances that the Government will work to maintain and grow opportunities for young people to connect abroad, and not just for the usual suspects who do so already,’ he added.

According to professor Jo Beall, director of education and society at the British Council, more young UK adults need to experience the benefits of global connections and international experience.

‘This is more important than ever as the UK prepares to leave the EU. It’s crucial to preserve the benefits of international opportunities in uncertain times, and to take seriously the appetite young people have to live and work abroad, to enhance job prospects and life skills,’ Beall added.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert September 19, 2017 at 4:31 pm

I agree, always young people like me are the one who risks a prosperous future with fewer dreams and goals. I’m sick and tired of the Gov in general. Power and money are equal as division and destruction in every Gov. We want to stay united we want to live a life with fewer limitations and more opportunities. Brexit will make immigration hard for EU citizens and so for us too, this is getting all backward. I hope the operator will keep my comment posted.


Jordan September 20, 2017 at 3:41 pm

You say that Robert, yet 64% of ‘young people’ couldn’t be bothered to vote in the EU Ref. In-fact, in a General Election who votes least as a percentage? You got it …. Younger people.


I.streets September 20, 2017 at 4:19 pm

I agree with the younger generation. I am 65 and because I exchange money every month brexit already is costing me more. I live in Cyprus and enjoy the EU benefits and I think it is the worst decision ever made. Brexit was sold on immigration to an audience who are either unemployed or on low income. It should of had a much bigger majority before accepting the final decision.
Let’s have another referendum where all the facts are presented with the fors and against because I think the vote would decide to remain.
It’s a mess and the young are going to suffer because the grown ups have had enough of immigrants but take the immigrants away who will do the work because too many Brits are claiming benefits and don’t want to work.


Liz September 20, 2017 at 4:25 pm

Robert you need to find out what the EU really want they want more control not less
There is massive unemployment in MOST EU counties for young people . Why do you want a federal Europe run by bureaucrats . Wake up to what is happening


Joan September 21, 2017 at 4:37 am

I disagree with the above article and comment. We have been tied to the EU and their rules too long, there is no reason why young people should experience different parts of the world within Brexit. In fact, I think it will provide more opportunities. Regarding the government, I do not think it makes a difference who’s in, this is for the people. Let us take back control of our country, work with other countries, spread our expertise and grow more of our own produce.


BigRoly September 27, 2017 at 3:10 pm

I’m in my 60s too, and I’m fed up to the back teeth with the Little Englander, let’s-all-blame-Johnny-Foreigner, mentality that has propelled Brexit. The UK is in decline and it’s going to get rapidly worse. Essentially it had always been better off in the EU as an equal partner. We can’t expect any of the advantages if we leave, but we’ll still be bound by the same laws if we expect to trade with the member states, but we will no longer have any say in formulating these laws.

If you take the trouble to read about the Boeing Bombardier affair, that will set the tone for the unequal partnerships we can expect to face with the USA, Russia and China. We haven’t been a great power since the 1940s and no amount of wishful thinking will suddenly restore all the colonies to the bosom of the Mother Country, nor will there be weekly flower shows, appearances by morris dancers on the village green and a sudden reappearance of millions of vicars in Panama hats and linen jackets riding bicycles while Miss Marple miraculously solves all our crimes. Anybody who thinks otherwise has been sold a fantasy.

Joan, you’re wrong on two counts: First, there is every reason why young people won’t be able to travel freely. It’s because our borders are closing. If a famous Syrian musician is barred entry to the UK to play at the Purcell Room or eminent African academics are denied entry to this country to attend a conference hosted by Cambridge University, that’s more serious than you realise. These are not some fly-by-night customers who want to sneak into the country as illegal immigrants to take up jobs as dishwashers!

As for getting back control of this country: you’ve **never** had any measure of control over this country, and neither did your grandparents or even their ancestors. The Monarchy and the House of Lords are not elected and you have no say over what they do. If Prince Charles wants to interfere in parliamentary affairs behind the scenes (and he does) you have no control. You have no control over the City Remembrancer who is an unelected person who has permanent residence in the Houses of Parliament as a sort of interfering lobbyist in fancy dress. He’s answerable to the Corporation of the City of London, but not to you. It makes **every** difference who is in government.

I can’t see how you expect Britain to work closely with other countries if it’s busy throwing away what advantages it had. And what is this expertise you’re telling us about? The rest of the world has overtaken us. Government won’t put any money into research and development, and private enterprise is only interested if there’s a cash profit to be made. At the same time Britain’s universities have been devastated by economic austerity and poor leadership. For the last 30 years the government has been instructing the universities to turn a cash profit. Education and development are now seen not as an investment but as a commodity and that’s a recipe for disaster.

Liz: the EU with its bureaucrats is no worse than our own home-grown bureaucracy. At least its workings are open to public scrutiny (you can find it online – even if it makes for remarkably boring reading) while the workings of the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice, the Foreign Office etc can’t be examined because they’re hidden in the folds of the Official Secrets Act. An accountant friend once had to do the books for Heritage Wales – and then sign the Act. Even a piffling job of little consequence like this was accompanied by a gagging order. Is that the sort of country you’re keen on preserving?


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