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It’s clearer than ever that Brexit has failed – let’s not inflict its miseries on young people | Zoe Williams


A scheme to allow British under-30s to live and work in the EU has been flatly rejected. Why punish them for older voters’ mistakes?

Only those born before 1998 could vote on Brexit, so there is no conceivable way of knowing which way today’s 18- to 30-year-olds would have felt about it. Oh, except there is: 70% of 18- to 24-year-olds think leaving the EU was a bad idea. Of the 25- to 49-year-olds, 66% also think we were wrong to leave. If you can bear to drag your mind back to the immediate aftermath of Brexit, you’ll recall that words like “overwhelming” and “vast” were completely debased by their use in conjunction with majorities that were actually wafer-thin. So let’s just say most young people are remainers.

For a long time, politics has dealt with the young remainer as it does with the rest of us; ignore us for long enough, and we’ll go away. If the Brexit argument had had any foundation – if it had brought trading or other benefits, if it had caused only negligible difficulties and those of the teething variety – then that would probably have worked. Most referendum outcomes get more popular over time.

Zoe Williams is a Guardian columnist

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