Voices: Since the Brexit vote, Britain has become a more intolerant place to live

voices: since the brexit vote, britain has become a more intolerant place to live
© Getty Images

I remember the vitriol about taking control of our borders and stricter immigration policies to keep people who looked like me out of this country

– Getty Images

I was months away from my 18th birthday when the UK voted for Brexit. I couldn’t vote on an issue that would impact me and so many other young people for years to come.

On the six year anniversary of the Brexit vote, as we reflect on its consequences, I can’t help but feel frustrated at the decision which I and the majority of my generation didn’t make, but continue to be affected by.

From the racist and xenophobic hate crimes targeted at communities like mine, to the subsequent lack of travel, work and study opportunities, the aftermath of Brexit has meant that myself and, dare I say, the majority of others in Britain, have been left worse off.

As a politically engaged young teenager, I remember prime minister David Cameron announcing the Brexit vote, but feeling confused as to what it actually meant. Then, in the lead up to the referendum, I became increasingly worried.

I remember the vitriol about taking control of our borders and stricter immigration policies to keep people who looked like me out of this country. Brexit quickly turned from wanting more autonomy from the European Union regarding laws and policies into a battle of us versus them.

But, I and millions of other people of colour in the UK were born and brought up here and countless EU nationals have long called this county home, so why were we made to feel as though we were no longer welcome?

Unfortunately, this narrative didn’t stop but increased after the results were announced. Since 2016, when Britain voted on Brexit, racially-motivated hate crimes have increased by a staggering 72 per cent and surged by 23 per cent in the 11 months post referendum. While other factors may be involved in this rise, I can’t help but feel like post-Brexit Britain isn’t as welcome and inclusive as it was before.

I remember hearing about people of colour facing racist abuse in the street, being told they would be kicked out of the country, and people at my college talking about how great Brexit and Donald Trump were (this was the same year he was elected), while I was close enough to hear them. As the Vote Leave campaign gained momentum, there was a sense that people felt more comfortable about being openly racist and xenophobic – and I believe this continues today.

And the fact that I and millions of others weren’t able to vote in the referendum left me feeling even more frustrated. In the UK, you can only vote once you’ve turned 18, but when Scotland held their independence referendum from the UK in 2014, they lowered the voting age to 16.

It makes sense to allow young people to vote in a referendum that will decide the future of their country – so why didn’t the government do the same for Brexit?

Debates about lowering the voting age have been going on for many years, but never were they more relevant than during the run-up to the Brexit referendum. The consequences of the referendum arguably impact young people the most – from limiting opportunities to work, study and travel abroad, to the direct impact on Britain’s economy, millions of young people won’t fully remember a time when these things were possible and it just doesn’t feel fair.

This is especially frustrating when you look at how Britain voted in the referendum based on age. People aged under 25 were twice as likely to vote Remain (71 per cent) than Leave (29 per cent) compared to 64 per cent of voters aged over 65 voting to Leave. Millions of young people were not allowed to vote in a referendum that would directly impact them for longer, and I still can’t understand why.

To keep up to speed with all the latest opinions and comment, sign up to our free weekly Voices Dispatches newsletter by clicking here

I have friends who can no longer afford to study abroad since the end of the Erasmus scheme, which allowed me and thousands of other UK university students to complete a part of their degree in a European country. The replacement for Erasmus, titled the Turing Scheme, is arguably an OK alternative, but no where near as attractive or financially beneficial as its predecessor.

Not only this, but being able to travel to and work in Europe feels more and more difficult. From new regulations such as needing as ETIAS visa waiver to travel to the EU from 2023, to needing six months until your passport expires to travel, and obtaining a visa to work abroad – dreams of backpacking and making memories as a young person travelling in Europe feel less and less realistic.

I would try and name some of the positives of leaving the European Union, but I just can’t think of any. As a young person of colour, I believe that Brexit has resulted in fewer opportunities and an increase in racial and xenophobic hatred in this county. Politics has felt more and more divided ever since the referendum, and many people do not understand what they voted for and did not expect the consequences.

Politicians took advantage of peoples anxieties and multiplied them to make enemies of the immigrant next door. Brexit has and will continue to impact Britons at home and abroad, with young people and minorities suffering the most and six years down the line, it still doesn’t seem very fair.

To mark the six year anniversary of the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, Voices brings you Brexit, 6 years on – a series exploring the impact of the vote to leave

From news to politics, travel to sport, culture to climate – The Independent has a host of free newsletters to suit your interests. To find the stories you want to read, and more, in your inbox, click here.

News Related


Man, 29, is charged with murdering and attempting to rape aspiring lawyer Zara Aleena, 35, as she walked home from night out with friends in London

A man has been charged with the murder of aspiring lawyer Zara Aleena after she was fatally attacked as she walked home from a night out with friends on Sunday. ... Read more »

Upscale West Hollywood votes to DEFUND sheriff's department even as crime soars by 137% - while savings will be used to fund 30 unarmed 'security ambassadors' and a Russian arts festival

West Hollywood's five-member city council voted on Monday night to cut the funding from the sheriffs' departmentThey will reduce the current size of the sheriffs department from approximately 60 deputies to 56, and the funds saved will be redistributedWith the money from reducing the headcount by four, the council plans to pay for 30 unarmed 'security ambassadors' to patrol the areaMayor Lauren Meister voted against the proposal, as did one of her colleagues: the other three councillors voted in favor of defunding the sheriffsCrime in West Hollywood had this spring risen by 137 percent, year on year, with a wave of pickpocketing complaints and theft hitting the popular area  Read more »

Video: Cruise ship brawl erupts in Carnival Magic's dance club with up to 60 passengers fighting: Coast Guard escorts vessel to dock in NYC

Read more »

Video: EXCLUSIVE: How Labor has DUMPED its promise to reduce energy bills by $275 after just SIX WEEKS in power: 'Figures will move around'

Read more »

Video: Sofia Vergara and husband Joe Manganiello pose with their dog Bubbles at LA premiere of his AMC+ series Moonhaven

Read more »

Australian woman reveals the VERY unexpected effect living in America had on her diet: 'I nearly threw up'

An Australian has shared of how living in the United States altered her tastesLili Currie told of how her diet changed from living in the US in a viral TikTok clip She said US food is so sweet she had to add sugar to meals when visiting homeThe actor also said fresh fruit and vegetables in America is extremely expensive Read more »

PIF have held NUFC "talks" to sign "magic" £40m wizard, he's a better Ben Arfa - opinion

© Provided by Football FanCast leeds-raphinha-premier-league-bielsa-hay-marsch- An update has emerged on Newcastle United and their interest in Raphinha in the summer transfer window…  What’s the talk? Northern Echo reporter Scott Wilson ... Read more »

Four exciting ways Arsenal can line up in 2022/23 after £45m Gabriel Jesus signing

Arsenal will have a new number nine next season in the form of Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian striker has completed a £45 million move from Manchester City to the north ... Read more »

Underarm serves, Tim Henman's grandmother and the debate dividing tennis

© GETTY IMAGES Andy Murray of Great Britain looks on against James Duckworth of Australia during Men’s Singles First Round match during Day One of The Championships Wimbledon 2022 at ... Read more »

Taylor: 'Moaning' Catterall desperate for rematch

Josh Taylor celebrates his win over Jack Catterall (Image: Lawrence Lustig) Josh Taylor says he is sticking around at light welterweight for two reasons – to fight Jose Zepeda and ... Read more »

Rosberg suspects politics at play over porpoising

With all but Fernando Alonso said to have complained about porpoising during a driver briefing but only a handful standing by those comments to the media, Nico Rosberg says that’s ... Read more »

To my wife’s annoyance I am getting obsessed with litter – is this what middle age feels like?

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Jeff Fusco/Getty Images I have been having some very dirty thoughts lately, and it’s been driving my wife bonkers. “Just look at all the ... Read more »

Antonio Colak: Rangers increase bid, PAOK price tag, 6-figure salary as ex-Ibrox star set for £3.5m exit

Rangers have made Croatian striker Antonio Colak their priority signing in attack. © Antonio Colak wants to move to Rangers. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images) Giovanni van Bronckhorst is keen ... Read more »

Fresh Tottenham Hotspur transfer stance emerges as move for Middlesbrough star stalls

© Provided by Football League World European Under-21 Championship Qualifying – England v Slovenia Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur could potentially pull out of the race for Middlesbrough wing-back Djed ... Read more »

Martin Boyle: Why Hibs are front of the queue to sign former Celtic target - and why return is unlikely

Hibs fan’s interest was piqued when it was confirmed that Al-Faisaly had been relegated from the Saudi Professional League. © Martin Boyle has seen his team Al-Faisaly relegated from the ... Read more »

Tyson Fury nominated for Best Boxer award at the 2022 ESPYS

Tyson Fury has been nominated for the Best Boxer award at this year’s ESPYS which will air live on July 20. Tyson, from Morecambe, has had quite the year when ... Read more »

Man charged with murder and attempted rape of aspiring lawyer killed while walking home

Jordan McSweeney, 29, has been charged with the murder of 35-year-old Zara Aleena in Ilford (Picture: PA/SWNS) A 29-year-old man has been charged with the murder of Zara Aleena, 35, ... Read more »

Angel Di Maria's free transfer to Juventus 'is almost FINAL' and the Italian giants 'could announce 34-year-old winger next week' as the Argentine leaves Paris Saint-Germain after seven years in France

Angel Di Maria is reportedly closing in on sealing a summer move to JuventusThe Argentina winger is leaving Paris Saint-Germain after seven years in FranceDi Maria is expected to sign a deal in Turin worth close to £5.2million per year  Read more »

Carlos Vela warns his new LAFC team-mate Gareth Bale he 'will have to work hard because MLS is NOT an easy league like many people think'... with the Welshman told to be ready for a 'very physical' challenge in the States

Gareth Bale has agreed a one-year contract with LAFC after leaving Real Madrid Carlos Vela, who has re-signed with LAFC, is excited to team up with BaleBut the former Arsenal man has warned Bale he 'will have to work hard' in MLS LAFC are top of MLS' Western Conference and have also signed Giorgio Chiellini  Read more »

Video: Air New Zealand releases world-first 'sleep pods' so economy passengers can rest for four hours at a time - and cabin crew WILL change the sheets for you

Read more »

'Heartbroken' Bachelor star Jessica Brody begs for help after finding a cat on the ledge of her 15th floor window as emergency services tell her there's NOTHING they can do to save it

Former Bachelor star Jessica Brody has been forced to turn to the media in a desperate bid to rescue a cat from death. The tattoo artist recently discovered a cat ... Read more »

US hunting lobby spent £1m on fight to delay UK trophy import ban

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images The US hunting lobby has spent £1m putting pressure on the government to delay the trophy import ban, a new report ... Read more »

Man charged with murder of Zara Aleena in London street

A man has been charged with the murder of Zara Aleena, who died after being attacked in an east London street. Aleena, 35, was found with extensive head injuries in ... Read more »

Aussie rich lister's stunning fall from grace after throwing a $600k wedding and hiring Snoop Dogg to perform at his birthday - as he's jailed for eight years over multi-million-dollar text messaging scam

Former Perth tech entrepreneur Zhenya Tsvetnenko was sentenced in the USHe will serve eight years in federal US prison for $20million US phone scamBetween 2012 and 2013, Tsvetnenko charged victims $9.99 a month for textsThe unsolicited text messages would feature horoscopes, trivia and gossip  Read more »

De Ligt, Kimpembe - The players Michael Edwards could sign for Chelsea as Director of Football

Chelsea have been linked with former Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards as Todd Boehly reshapes his backroom staff at Stamford Bridge. Edwards left Liverpool at the end of the 2021/22 ... Read more »

Mystery as capsized boat belonging to retired US Army Special Forces soldier, 44, who disappeared off coast of North Carolina seven months ago washes up 1,700miles away in Azores Islands - but with no sign of its captain

 Joseph Matthew Johnson's boat washed up in the Azores Islands, 2,700 miles across the Atlantic Ocean from where he went missing in last November The 44 year old was last seen leaving the a yacht club in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, seven months agoBarnacle buildup on the boat suggested that it had been capsized for an extensive period of time, authorities saidThough there has been no sign of Johnson - a US Army Special Forces veteran - his family remains confident that he is alive Read more »

Founder of wearable 'Oodie' blanket reveals the hundreds of MILLIONS he's earned since the craze took off - as he shares the secrets to his success... and what he'd change: 'Too focused on money'

Davie Fogarty is the young founder of the multi-million-dollar brand 'The Oodie'Since launching in 2018 the business has turned over more than $400million But prior the now-27-year-old had a string of failed business attempts Oodies boomed in popularity with thousands stuck at home in lockdown  Read more »

Malcolm Turnbull's teacher daughter SLAMS the 'insulting' way Aussies speak about her profession in a series of scathing tweets

Daisy Turnbull has slammed the treatment of Australia's teachers by the publicDaughter of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull sparked debate on Twitter She lamented treatment of educators striking as opposed to nurses and soldiersComments come after Senator Hollie Hughes called teachers 'Marxists'  Read more »

Falling NHS continuity of care poses ‘existential threat’ to patient safety

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: John Birdsall/Alamy Rapidly falling continuity of care levels pose an “existential threat” to patient safety, Britain’s top family doctor will warn today as research ... Read more »

Christian Horner makes 'short memories' comment as Mercedes chance at Silverstone assessed

Red Bull chief Christian Horner says people in F1 have short memories if they have ruled out the possibility of Mercedes triumphing at the British Grand Prix this weekend. Silver ... Read more »

Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead seen signing autographs as they leave NYC hotel

Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead were seen leaving a New York City hotel on Tuesday, signing autographs for fans outside of the establishment. McGregor, 51, wore a black jacket ... Read more »

On the mend! Jasmine Stefanovic dotes on daughter Harper, two, as she takes her to the botanic gardens in Brisbane - after rushing her to the hospital last week

Last week, Jasmine Stefanovic and husband Karl Stefanovic experienced any parents’ worst nightmare when they had to rush daughter Harper, two, to hospital. But it seems that the tiny tot ... Read more »

Atlanta, season 3 review: Donald Glover's bold, bracing series is still like nothing else on TV

© Disney Donald Glover and Brian Tyree Henry star in Atlanta – Disney It can seem like a trick of the memory but, back in 2016, Atlanta (Disney+), the most ... Read more »

Erik ten Hag can hand Tyrell Malacia ideal shirt number with Manchester United transfer decision

© Getty Images Manchester United are closing in on the signing of Tyrell Malacia One of Tyrell Malacia’s ideal shirt numbers could become available in time for the defender’s potential ... Read more »

Male MPs attempt menopause in hot flush vest – then can’t wait to take it off

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Sarah Lee/The Guardian “Volcanic” and “very uncomfortable” – just some reactions from male MPs trying out a vest that simulates menopause hot flushes as ... Read more »

Zara Aleena killing: Jordan McSweeney charged with murder of 35-year-old woman in Ilford, east London

A man has been charged with the murder of Zara Aleena in Ilford, east London. Jordan McSweeney, 29, has also been charged with attempted rape and robbery, Metropolitan Police said. ... Read more »

Video: Heidi Klum wows in a sparkling multicolor dress as she leaves The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in New York City

Read more »

The Academy extends invites to 397 new members including Billie Eilish, Ariana DeBose, Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe and many more

Just a few months after the Oscars, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have expanded their ranks, inviting 397 new members to join. Among the newest Academy members ... Read more »

Video: Hugh Jackman praises Baz Luhrmann's epic new movie Elvis... 14 years after they worked together on Australia: 'Baz, you have done it again'

Read more »