Why now is a great time to understand politics (and its impact on you)
This year has been remarkable. 2016 will be the year people remember for the untimely deaths of their musical heroes, for the year that Donald Trump turned the race for the White House into an unprecedented descent into bigotry and bitterness, and it will surely be marked in people’s memories as the year the British people decided to leave the European Union. No one would have predicted the political upheavals the UK has experienced in the past few months.
One of the results of this year’s strange political landscape (the Brexit referendum especially) is that no one continues under the illusion that politics doesn’t affect our daily life. If, as seems almost certain, the UK leaves the EU, the impact on the lives of young people will be significant.
The problem is, we’re not yet entirely sure what leaving the EU will look like. Will we remain in the single market? Will free movement of people to and from the EU cease? Will Brexit plunge us into recession?
A ‘hard Brexit’ will involve Britain leaving the single market – the group of countries which agree to have a free flow of goods, people, services and capital. The chances are that this decision would negatively affect young people’s job opportunities. If fewer EU citizens were coming to the UK to work, there might be more jobs available in certain areas, but these are likely to be the very low paid jobs (fruit picking for example) or jobs only accessible to a highly specialised minority, for example, high end banking. And the opportunities available in Europe would obviously be reduced.
Furthermore, if large international companies decided to move their UK offices elsewhere, the UK loses those jobs. And if this sparked a recession, jobs decline further. WIth no free movement of people, it may also become harder for UK students to study for part or all of their degree in EU countries. There is no word yet on whether the Erasmus scheme will be safeguarded for British students.
Not cheerful news so far (it’s not coincidental that young people voted overwhelmingly to Remain), but this is obviously speculative, as no one has any idea what will unfold. The good news is that there is a chance the economy might cope with Brexit well, or even become stronger. And none of this will happen tomorrow. Once Article 50 is triggered, negotiations are likely to take two years.
The message for all of us then is to watch this space. Politics is directly relevant to your studies, your chances of gaining a graduate job, and how easy it will be to progress in your chosen career. Staying abreast of what is happening will mean you can prepare as much as possible for the wider environment you’re operating in. There will always be great jobs and careers available for the best: make sure you’re one of them!
To learn more about politics and policy making, and how you can contribute to British politics, visit Model Westminster