A People’s Vote for young people

“I need a People’s Vote or my future will be decided for me”. Charlie Keller, Young Greens’ North West Co-ordinator and part of the Green Party’s current 30 Under 30 scheme, explains why a People’s Vote will be crucial for young people and those who weren’t able to have a say on their future in the previous referendum.

European flags at a march against Brexit
European flags at a march against Brexit

Flickr / David Holt / cc-by-2.0

Charlie Keller

“Slavery. Torture. Discrimination.” This is how I began my speech in early 2016, discussing how the Human Rights Act would be affected if we leave the European Union. I was fifteen years old at the time and already had a passion for politics, social and environmental justice. When the referendum came about in the June of that year, I was protesting through every medium that I could think of about how unfair it was that I couldn’t vote.

My argument was that sixteen year olds could vote in the Scottish Referendum two years previously, so why couldn’t they vote in this one? As my local MP put it to me one year later, “You can’t even buy cigarettes at your age, why should you be allowed to vote?”, to which I retorted, “I can fight on the front line, get married, start a family, go to an adult jail but not have a say in my future.”

I turned 16 before the Brexit vote passed Parliament. I wasn’t allowed a say in my future then, but I will get one next year if we have a People’s Vote. I will get a choice on whether or not I can travel through Europe for free on my gap year. I will get a choice on whether my university tuition will be higher than the extortionate amount it’s currently at. I will get a choice on whether my year abroad will be subsidised with the Erasmus scheme. I will get a choice if I want to go to a university within Europe. I need a People’s Vote, or these things will be decided for me, in my next stage of education.

I turned 18 in October this year. It was so frustrating how I could attend protests, join a political party, get on the electoral register and study politics – yet not actually vote! Having a say on the final Brexit deal will be the first time that I can vote, and I know exactly what I’ll be voting for – it’s my future.