Dozens of young activists call for people’s vote on Brexit

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Young people have filled the Houses of Parliament to call for a people’s vote on Brexit and speak to politicians about how much they value being a citizen of Europe.

More than 150 activists from across the UK streamed into the House of Commons lobby in London on Tuesday, requesting to speak with their local MPs.

The demonstration, organised by youth movement Our Future, Our Choice (OFOC), was aimed at making the Government hear about the ways in which Brexit could hurt young people.

“We’re here to protect young people’s interests in the Brexit age,” Alex Popper, 21, said. “And also to campaign for a people’s vote to make sure what we’re doing has a public mandate.”

Mr Popper, from Camden Town in London, said young people, the majority of whom voted to remain, will be unfairly affected by Brexit.

“Young people disproportionately use the freedoms that the EU provides. The freedom of movement, work and study in EU countries,” he said.

“We’re also making the wider argument that this is just bad for our economy in every sense.”

The history graduate said it would take “decades” for the UK to strike new international trade deals after Brexit, and the country would lose out heavily as a result.

“The EU’s civil servants are some of the most qualified trade negotiators in the world,” Mr Popper said.

“A lot of the UK’s civil servants do not have experience of trade negotiations.

“It’s a complete fantasy to say let’s make a trade deal with you and you and you. It’s a huge administrative task.”

The youngsters made requests to speak with their local members and some came down to the lobby, including Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg and Labour’s Ian Mearnes.

“It was very nice to meet you,” Mr Rees-Mogg said to the group after explaining the reason for his vote of no confidence in Theresa May.

Will Dry, from Cheshire in West Sussex, went head to head with Mr Rees-Mogg over what would happen if the Brexit deal is rejected by Parliament.

The 20-year-old said Mr Rees-Mogg’s response was that he would push for a no-deal Brexit.

“And I said, ‘wasn’t the whole Brexit process about restoring sovereignty to Parliament and accepting the will of British members of Parliament?’,” Mr Dry said.

“And he ignored that and said, ‘no, we voted to leave’.”

The group brought to the protest a blue “battle bus” emblazoned with the message: “77% of us don’t want Brexit – stand up for our future.”

OFOC organiser Nat Shaughnassy said the day was not about reversing the referendum result, but discussing the benefits of EU membership.

“Young people should be at the front of that debate, given we have to live with it the longest,” he said.

Mr Shaughnessy said OFOC had produced a report that found Brexit would be financially damaging to young people.

“The best possible Brexit scenario is going to cost us about £20,000 in lost income by 2050,” he said.

“But on top of that it’s more about the direction in which the country is going.

“That European citizenship, which we value and has been part of our lives for so long, is going to be taken away from us.”

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