OUR DEMOCRATIC RIGHT FOR BREXIT! WE KNOW IT WILL DEFINITELY HAPPEN, BUT HOW WILL IT AFFECT US AND HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND?
I’ve never seen a more Conservative Cabinet in my life. I will not share how I voted in the Brexit vote, but I do find it democratically insulting that we have not left the EU yet. Britain voted Leave, and that’s what we should have done by now. I believe that this Cabinet does have the testicular fortitude to deliver Brexit, regardless of how anybody else feels. Failure to do so will be an undermining of democracy, furthering the narrative that the average citizen doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things; instead, our fates remain in the hands of the elite, who have their own sinister agendas. It’s clear though that this Cabinet’s main goal is to deliver Brexit.
According to surveys by YouGov, 71% of 18-24-year olds voted to Remain. I must confess, this research did not surprise me. I have seen young millennials and Generation X marching with anti-Brexit slogans and other left-wing messages at campaigns countless times. They treat the rise of Jeremy Corbyn as the second coming of Jesus Christ, with promises to ‘tax the rich’ and chanting his slogan ‘for the many, not the few’ like a hypnotised army. It’s not hard to figure out that, in general, most university students are very left wing, and Middlesex is no exception to this.
However, with the establishment of this new Cabinet, how will Middlesex students react and what changes will happen? Let’s take the Erasmus programme, for example. Erasmus is a fantastic opportunity for students to travel to EU member states to work and study, a reflection of one of the perks that come with being an EU member state. The programme is one of Middlesex’s main features. When Brexit happens – and it will happen, no matter how much we try and avoid it – the United Kingdom will no longer be an EU member state, thus rendering the UK and all its universities (including Middlesex) ineligible for the Erasmus programme. What would this mean for potential students wanting to study abroad in a European country? Perhaps they would have to do everything manually. Brexit is not a reason why a student cannot study abroad in a European country; it just means that their study will not be partly or wholly government subsidised. Students would have to oversee their own affairs in their entirety, including work, visas and passports, living expenses, utilities etc. Britain is not going to become an isolated, social pariah in the political arena, as some Remainers would have you believe. We will still have a relationship with EU member states, just not in the same capacity as we are now. We won’t suddenly disappear of the face of the Earth and become irrelevant. Students will simply have to take on greater responsibility for themselves and their education. I don’t see a problem with that. It’s not the government’s responsibility to care about my education, it’s mine. Nobody else is responsible for my education except me. Sure, not having the Erasmus programme makes things more difficult undoubtedly, but not impossible. Fearmongering from Remainers should not make you scared to pursue your dreams.
There’s a big problem here though – for a student to go to all this trouble, they must still want to come and study in the UK. That might be tough when we have a Prime Minister who has a knack for offending minority communities. There is a difference between making a joke or comment in bad taste and being an actual racist or xenophobe. A joke or comment by itself (within a context) is isolated and should not be a true reflection of a person’s genuine views or beliefs. However, because we are talking about the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom – a world leader – the rules and effects of making certain comments are different. Boris Johnson is a man who has described burka-wearing Muslim women as ‘letterboxes’, compared gay marriage to bestiality (in his 2002 book, ‘Friends, Voters, Countrymen’), described African natives as having ‘watermelon smiles’ and wrote a poem about President Erdogan of Turkey using colourful language that cannot be repeated here. As I said before, there’s a difference between making a racist joke and being an actual racist. I am not accusing Johnson of being racist, xenophobic or homophobic. Regardless, however, when you have a world leader making controversial remarks such as these, questions must be asked. This is a world leader, not a comedian or any other public figure for entertainment purposes. Anything he says reflects how Britain is viewed in the international political arena, as well as how he is viewed by the British public. We pride ourselves at MDX on being inclusive and tolerant of all communities. If you have a Prime Minister making comments that contradict our inclusive attitude, we have a problem. This can be detrimental to the morale of our students, as well as students across the country. Middlesex University boasts many international students from all over the world. Some of these students might be put off by Johnson’s comments, and may look elsewhere to further their education. And let’s not forget out student exchange programmes from our partner universities including one in Dubai, which is a majority Muslim country. If I was a Muslim, and I heard a world leader make certain comments about my religious wear, I’d think twice about wanting to go to that country.
All that being said, I do feel that students should still feel more optimistic about their future. Brexit is happening. Fact. Whether you like it or not, we will leave the EU and uphold the democratic vote. What I have noticed is an attitude of defiance and rebellion against this vote, which I feel is a direct threat and insult towards democracy. Had we voted to Remain, I guarantee there would not be all this uproar and civil unrest. As students – and adults – we must learn to accept things that don’t go our way. Okay, most students probably voted to Remain, but the majority vote was to Leave. Tough. We have to stop acting like children and realise that democracy works both ways. It’s not democratic when things go your way, but undemocratic when they don’t. We don’t get to pick and choose when democracy applies, because that defeats the purpose of democracy. We have to have more resilience against challenges and disappointments. This should not affect our morale going forward in life. Life is hard, and there will be more failures, more sadness and more disappointments along the way. Are we going to crumble every time we don’t get our way? Are we that arrogant that we think life should play to our rules? Do we believe we are above disappointment?
For me, the future is bright.
It seems clear to me that Middlesex University will go through a transitional period during Brexit. It will have both positive and negative effects on the student body.
I can only hope that students overcome this hurdle and pursue their dreams, and not be totally influenced by contemporary media.