Exiting the European Union has the potential to severely, negatively impact children living in Britain today, yet so far Brexit has remained a discussion between and about adults, writes Helen Stalford, Professor of Law at the University of Liverpool. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s commissioning partnership ‘Brexit Divisions’ with openDemocracy.
On 23 June 2016 adults will decide on the future of the UK’s membership of the European Union. While proposals to extend the vote to 16 and 17 year olds were defeated in the House of Lords in December 2015, they reignited debate over the substance and scope of children’s democratic participation and their capacity to make informed political decisions. None of these discussions or, indeed, any of the wider debates surrounding the forthcoming referendum have considered the impact that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU might have on children’s rights and lives. This is in spite of the fact that children, who make up one fifth of the EU population and nearly one quarter (approximately 15 million) of the UK population, have the biggest stake in the outcome of the referendum. As current and future citizens, consumers, movers, workers, parents, and carers, children will bear the full brunt and, indeed, the benefits of any decision to either remain in or withdraw from the EU. Continue reading