If BRExit Teaches Us Anything

BRExit

This morning at 7am UK time, 2pm in Sydney, we learned the shock result of the BRExit Referendum…

…Leave

I won’t rehash the arguments here. Suffice to say the UKIP Leader Nigel Farage renounced his promise of an extra £350m to the NHS in what must be the quickest break of a campaign promise in history. Truly historic.

And Boris Johnson suddenly started suggesting that the UK could take it’s time to leave. After all, he’d achieved his primary objective of succession to the top job. Of course, the EU is having none of it…

The very ‘working class’ people (read elderly working class people) that wanted to ‘take back their country’ to guarantee their jobs, in a single day wiped >£120B off the London markets. Later the DOW Jones opened and also lost 600 points, totalling an amazing $2.1T loss.

Hardly a promising start to wealth and prosperity. Deny your youth the opportunity to work in 27 countries, and kill the very corporations that need to employ them at home. Take the world economy with you for the ride. And tear both primary political parties in two whilst you’re about it.

Nicely played.

Nothing New

But we’ve seen recessions, depressions, and financial crises before. Smart young people will train for careers in technology that allow them location independence. It’s the under-educated, older, working class people that will struggle to find work in a changing world.

As to halting migration, BRExit won’t matter a damn. I don’t believe that we’ve begun to see the mass migration that Climate Change will wreak upon the world. EU or no, borders will become all but irrelevent.

Apathetic Youth

No. The biggest concern that I have is an uninformed, unengaged, and largely apathetic youth.

If the BRExit teaches us anything it’s that we need to find a way to engage with Millennials. Not just in the UK, but throughout the developed nations that depend upon centuries old democracies.

BRExit Young People Voted to Remain
BRExit Young People Voted Remain
Credit: BBC

Those Gen Y’s that did vote in the UK, overwhelmingly voted to remain. Unfortunately, however, less than 40% of Millennials voted. So with less than 75% of the population voting, and a marginal 51.4% majority, had some more young people voted the outcome would have been very different.

Radicalisation

This is especially concerning when we look at radicalisation. Democracies have always found it difficult to deal with non-state actors and guerrilla groups. But never more so than in a day where the very communications fabric of society gives global access to non-state organisations, for free.

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So on the one hand we’re hoping that a democratic process, invented 800 years ago for a very different world, will engage young people. And those that would disrupt democracy make it easy and compelling.

If we are going to require young people to register and vote appropriately, we need to compel them, and inform them.

But perhaps it’s too late…