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Why a No-Deal Brexit May Be Good For Young People

It’s not all doom and gloom

Photo courtesy of Freestocks-photos

by Derek Gardiner

A no-deal Brexit seems to be becoming more likely by the day. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has demanded that the EU scrap the Northern Ireland backstop and the EU refuses. It may very well be the case that, unless Boris Johnson requests an extension, we will leave the EU on October 31st at 11pm on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.  


In the 2016 EU referendum, people under the age of 24 were far more likely to be in favour of the EU with 73% voting to remain; a large number of them did so because they saw many benefits of remaining: freedom of movement or studying abroad with the Erasmus scheme. Young Remain voters now seem to dread the prospect of a WTO Brexit and are taking to the streets in mass numbers to protest against it. But it need not all be doom and gloom. 


We have it much tougher than when our parents or grandparents did in their twenties when we were not in the EU (or at least the EU in its current form). Back then young people leaving school had many options, they could learn a skill or a trade, work in manufacturing, work in a family high street business or in some cases go to university. Now that is all gone and when today’s young people leave school - even if we go on to graduate - are highly likely to end up in low-paid work and be unable to afford a home for a significant period of time. 


In the last 20 years, the free movement of capital, services and labour has allowed big business and big banks to dominate the British market, often at the expense of British small business. These corporations now have unrestricted access to cheap labour from Eastern Europe which allows them to keep the wages of British workers, especially young workers, low, as they will have a large quantity of other workers they can replace them with, who are willing to work for less. This prevents effective unionising in pursuit of higher pay and has thus left an entire generation with little prospect of a pay rise. In addition, there are fewer opportunities for young people to gain apprenticeships in trades, with plumbers and joiners free to come to the UK from other EU countries and work for less and there is little reason for employers to invest time and money in training British young people.


Young people also face many barriers from getting on the housing ladder. Currently, house prices in some parts of the UK are over eight times higher than the average wage. However, with a no-deal Brexit house prices are set to fall by up to a third, according to the Bank of England. While this may be bad news for some, it could, provided interest rates remain low, allow young people to finally be able to afford a home of their own; this has the potential to create a housing boom that would open up the market to a generation currently barred. It seems absurd to me that those who protest against high house prices also protest against policies that will make housing cheaper.  


A no-deal Brexit would allow Britain more freedom to diverge from strict and often absurd EU red tape such as regulation (EC) No 852/2004 which requires that all catering facilities have a sink solely for washing hands. These kinds of regulations are often lobbied for by mega corporations to remove competition from small businesses and ensure their continued dominance of the market. A clean break Brexit will free young British entrepreneurs to start their own business and employ others within their communities instead of working as a “team member” in a mega corporation for a pittance.  


A clean break Brexit will be a chance to start afresh, it will be a wakeup call to the government that they can no longer simply rely on an economy of speculation and financial services. It’s time to go back to an economy of real people. I’m confident a no-deal Brexit, if done right, could lead to a new era of prosperity for Britain. 

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