Channel 4 Debate – Brexit Inbetweeners

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Not long after Channel 4 announced their plans to open a new HQ in Leeds, Jon Snow took to Twitter calling all young people who were unable to vote at the time of the referendum but who are now over 18, to take part in a televised debate. Labelled ‘Brexit Inbetweeners’, the debate aimed to give a voice to 18-20-year-olds, many of whom are in favour of a second referendum and feel hard done by – not having had a say in the original result.

The team organising the event took care to make sure the views of the audience represented those of young people across the UK, with a higher percentage favouring Remain over Leave and a large part advocating for a second referendum. Despite this, many viewers were quick to point out that the majority of opening points from the audience were either pro-Brexit or strongly against holding a second referendum.

“Clearly the Remainers don’t feel very strong-voiced tonight,” said Jon Snow, in an attempt to spark up a greater debate amongst the audience. And as the news went to a brief advert break, we were further encouraged to ‘not wait for him’ and ‘jump in’ when we felt like it. Whilst this did make for a more exciting second half, regrettably, it seemed to turn into a competition for the loudest voice in the room.

Opinions such as ‘a people’s vote would be undemocratic’ received much more clapping, support and attention than a more business related point, such as ‘leaving the EU with a no-deal would damage our economy in the short-term’.  Once again it seemed that when it comes to Brexit, people aren’t afraid to ignore the opinions of experts and business leaders – in fact, a passionate opinion put forward without any facts seemed to have a much greater impact.

The debate directly followed Channel 4 news’ report that car manufactures Jaguar Land Rover and Ford were to cut jobs in the UK – a decision many blame on heightened uncertainty about the UK’s future post-Brexit.

It is still unclear under what circumstances Britain will be leaving the EU on 29th March, or even whether the UK will be leaving in March at all. Andrea Leadsom, leader of the House of Commons, recently told the BBC that she didn’t think it was possible for Brexit to make it through parliament by the deadline and that an extension of “a couple of extra weeks” would be necessary.

However, the Prime Minister remains confident that the UK will be leaving on the 29th March, though conceding that MPs may have to give up their February half-term break to get Brexit delivered on time. Such revelations are unlikely to be popular with an already seemingly fed-up bunch of MPs – but then again, Theresa May’s popularity may well be past the point of no return. Having survived two attempts to topple her leadership, nobody can deny her strong-willed and determined character. But if no significant progress is to be made in the forthcoming weeks, she might have to drop the ‘its all going to be fine’ attitude and go back to the drawing board.

Will Southall