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Monday 08-05-2017 - 12:09

8 June will mark an historic day for young people. Whoever is elected at this General Election will have the final say on Brexit, and its implications will be felt for generations to come. Students’ can help shape this, but only if we get out and vote. Make sure you are registered by 22 May to ensure the future you want.

The date of this General Election marks roughly a year since the European Referendum on 23 June 2016. That was a monumental vote, one that has changed the course of history forever. It was, we were told, a once in a lifetime vote. Except, I don’t think it was – I think this one is just as important.

I’ll be honest; I really wasn’t expecting to have to write another blog on ensuring that you get out and vote. As we all know, Theresa May had promised and sworn that there wouldn’t be another General Election. But I’m glad I have another opportunity to remind you to vote and ensure that your voice is heard during the Brexit negotiations. Young people voted overwhelmingly to remain in Europe; 75 per centof voters aged 24 and under voted against Brexit. Despite 18 -24 voter turnout jumping by 20 per cent, we were outvoted. This General Election is our chance to right this wrong, to put a stop to the worst aspects of Brexit and to shape the UKs leave from the European Referendum.

Not least because at this election 750,000 British teenagers who were denied the right to vote last year will now be old enough. In 2016 the government disenfranchised young people and locked them out of a decision that will affect their lives forever. One poll found that 82 per centof 16 and 17 year olds would have voted to remain, had they had the chance. This election is their opportunity to finally have their say.

While I wish I could sit here and promise you that your vote in the General Election could see us put a stop to Brexit, I can’t. The majority of the major political parties have said that they will honour the results of the referendum. With Article 50 triggered, we are set to leave the European Union and there isn’t much we can do about that anymore. What we can do, though, is substantially shape what leaving looks like.

We can ensure that there are protections in place for EU and international students and staff once we’ve left Europe. We can make sure there is continued free movement for students and academics, so that they can study and teach freely. We can ensure that the UK continues to contribute to and retain membership of Erasmus programmes that provide the opportunity for students to study in EU countries.

Together we can shape the UK’s leave from the European Union and guarantee that it works for students. We can push whoever is in charge to promise a referendum on the terms of our exit from the EU. However, we can only do this if we become a voting bloc to be reckoned with. Students’ voices are continually disregarded by politicians and this absolutely needs to change. We all have our part to play in changing this.

Turnout for young people for the General Election in 2015 was 43 per cent, almost 30 per cent less than the over 65s. When voter turnout among a demographic is comparatively low, the government assumes they don’t need to listen to their demands. That’s why government policies are often directed at older voters and ignores the needs younger, student voters.

This election is far too important for the student voice to be ignored anymore. Make sure you are registered to vote: you can do it here and it takes less than three minutes. Then get out and use your vote. Together, we can influence what Brexit looks like, but only by coming together at the ballot box.

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