Studentorganisations with close to a million membershave joined forces andwritten to MPs demanding a referendum on afinal Brexit deal.
Representatives from unions at 60 of the country’s universitiesand colleges, claiming to represent “just under one million students” across the UK, are calling on MPs to back a “people’s vote” on a final Brexit deal, citing fears than Brexit could have a disastrousimpact on their future prospect.
In theletter, elected student representatives say they believe “the European Union has been a force for good for UK society” but that they accepted the result of the June 2016 referendum.
But the letter says”the world is a different place to 2016″ and point tothe fact Brexiteers did not keep their campaign promises and that details about a post-Brexit UK were only emerging now.
The letteralso argues that large numbers of young people who were too young to vote during the referendum in 2016 needto have a say “on the biggest issue affecting their future”.
The joint letter was organised byFor our Future’s Sake (FFS),a campaign led by students and young people across the UK “who have decided to stand up and be counted” and believe that they will be better served by staying in the European Union.
Previous research from the London School of Economicshas suggested that turnout among young people at the referendum in June 2016 was around 64 per cent in the 18-24 group while pollsters saidaround 70 per cent of this age group voted to Remain in the referendum.
Ellie Keiller, president of the University of Birmingham Students’ Guild, told The Independent: “Given the fact that 750,000 young people turn 18 every year, it is only fair that they get a say on this. It is them who will have to live with the effects of any Brexit deal the longest.
“I have signed this letter because I want the whole of the UK – including young people – to have a sayon the final deal, but at least this time we will know what weare voting for. This is about ensuring an open and fair democracy. We are only asking for an equal say with true information.
“For all these reasons, I am calling on Birmingham MPs- the youngest city in Europe – to get behind the letter and call for a vote on the final deal.”
Amatey Doku, deputy president of the National Union of Students (NUS), told The Observer: When over 120 elected student officers, representing nearly a million young people, call for something with one clear voice, they need to be listened to.”
Mr Doku said the NUSwas calling for a people’s vote on the Brexit deal, adding that young people “cannot see how the government can deliver a Brexit deal that works for them”.
Responding to the students’ letter, Dominic Shellard, vice-chancellor of De Montfort University in Leicester, wrote on Twitter: “The cabinet is at war over two custom union options the EU is never going to accept in a million years. We’re 10 months away from leaving the EU with no plan whatsoever. I’m with the students #PeoplesVote”.
Co-founder of student mobilisation at For our Future’s SakeAmanda ChetwyndCowiesontold Sky News: “The signatoriesof this letter are elected representatives which represent the best interest of their members and they have all signed up to the fact that they think their members are going to be better served by having a people’s vote on the terms of the Brexit deal. They have a mandate to do this and many of them have pro-Remain policy at their unions.”
But Tom Harwood, the former leader of the Vote Leave student wing,disagreed. He described the campaign as “farcical” and said this was led by “a 100 people from the NUSwho are very upset the referendum result didn’t go the way they wanted to go and so they want to have another go”.
The letter comes after Labour veteran Peter Mandelson said the decision on how the UK leaves the EU will have to “go back to the people”.
Last month, Labour’s leader in the European Parliament, Richard Corbett,saiddemand for a second referendum on the final Brexit deal was “growing”as the damaging impact of leaving the EU was becoming clearer.
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, previously said Labour had not ruled out a second referendum, or any form of democratic engagement on Brexit though he said his preference was for a general election.
Labour has so far shied away from backing another referendum on the final Brexit vote.
The government insists that if the final deal is voted down by the UK Parliamentthen it will take Britain out of the EU without a deal and quit the bloc on default World Trade Organisation terms which practically all economists agree would be the most damaging Brexit scenario.