Next generation voices their thoughts on Sunderland’s post-Brexit future

Activist Femi Oluwole speaking at the Our Future, Our Choice meeting at Sunderland Civic Centre.
Activist Femi Oluwole speaking at the Our Future, Our Choice meeting at Sunderland Civic Centre.

Young voters were able to voice their thoughts about the impact Brexit could have on Sunderland as a campaign calling for a People’s Vote on the final deal.

Youth group Our Future, Our Choice visited Wearside as it calls for communities to have their say over concerns of a lack of progress in the Government’s negotiations.

I do think people should be given a vote so people have a final option on what will happen.

Aaisha Haque

Around 15 people aged from 18 to their mid-30s gathered for a discussion at Sunderland Civic Centre as it looks to launch a local group.

Its activists, Femi Oluwole and Lara Spirit, listened to the concerns residents have about the process and its potential outcome as they work to press for more answers.

Among the audience was Aaisha Haque, 18, who is studying A-levels in politics, law and sociology at St Anthony’s Catholic Girls’ Academy’s sixth form.

Now 18, she missed out on a vote in the referendum in June 2016 and heard about the campaign after it visited her school with Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott.

Aaisha said: “People are quite disillusioned about the process and it’s not clear to people what’s going on.

“There’s been a lot of misinformation and I think than had an impact on how people voted.

“I do think people should be given a vote so people have a final option on what will happen.”

Sunderland’s result showed 82,394 of voters - 61.3% - backed the move to leave, while 51,930 - 38.7% - supported a call to remain.

Phoebe Potter, the field group co-ordinator for the organisation, added: “Young people understand that Sunderland did vote for Brexit, but feel that it could be bad for the city in terms of employment.

“They also talked about how much European Union funding comes to Sunderland and how that will be made up from the Government once we leave the EU.

“We’re an organisation which is talking to young people because that’s the demographic which says it is not being heard and we want to give them some role in this.”

Femi said: “We heard that Westminster doesn’t care about the North East and Westminster has never invested in the region, with the attitude that it has Nissan, that’s what you’ve got and that’s all you need.

“Japan has said if we leave the single market, it could take out its workforce in the next 10 years.

“It’s not just production jobs it offers, it’s all the jobs it supports, and that’s a message we heard.

“They feel that beyond production and call centre jobs, everything else remains in London and that it’s still a Londoncentric country.

“It seems like so much is going into Brexit that nothing is going into fixing that problem.”