“Has my future been ripped from under me?” Young people cited fears over lost opportunities outside of the EU when Lincoln High Street was turned into a Brexit battleground.
Representatives of some parties hoping for seats on the European Parliament took part in a public hustings on Tuesday.
Conservative Candidate Brendan Clarke-Smith and Liberal Democrat candidate Caroline Kenyon took to a soap box at Speakers’ Corner, along with representative for the Green Party Valerie Wilkinson – who is not a candidate, but did stand in the local elections.
Representatives of Change UK, the Independent Network, Labour, The Brexit Party or UKIP were not in attendance.
The youngest person to ask a question said he wasn’t old enough to vote the first time around.
Oliver Craven, 19, said: “Despite desperately wanting to Remain I couldn’t vote in the EU Referendum almost three years ago and the fact is my generation has had our future ripped out from under us – we won’t be able to live, work etc in other EU countries. What are the candidates doing to protect our future?”
Liberal Democrat Caroline Kenyon said it was selfish for those of “middle age and above” like herself and some of her fellow candidates to “take away from young people all these wonderful opportunities.
She said stopping Brexit would protect future generations.
However, Conservative candidate Brandon Clarke-Smith, said leaving the EU offered the chance to create more opportunities for young people globally.
He said: “We’re not leaving Europe, we’re leaving the EU. It’s not just about Europe, we want to get out and be more in the world. Britain has a very important place in the world.”
He told those watching that “individuals’ success in life comes from the power to change your own lives.”
“It doesn’t matter who’s in Government or what that Government does I think the individual can seize that opportunity and we can all make a success of things.
“So regardless of what happens with Brexit I’m sure you’re very talented and will be able to make a success whatever happens.”
He said projects such as ERASMUS – which enables pupils to travel to other countries to study – could still carry on but also called for more from other partners such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand.
“These are countries we can do more in terms of living, working, studying and trading. Let’s be a global nation once again.”
Many in support of Brexit disagreed and fear of lost opportunities was unnecessary.
One man said that up until the 1970s Great Britain had traded well, and questioned whether it was democratic to “ignore the vote” of those. Another shouted at those taking part to “just get on with it and leave”.
Another woman called the elected European Parliament an “expensive charade” which could be overruled by the unelected European Commission.
Much of the debate centred around Brexit, a second referendum and how quickly a campaign to rejoin the parliament would be organised if it was cancelled.
Others centred around parties’ belief in Britain’s ability to continue without the EU, fishing, immigration, climate change and the environment.
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