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How Brexit Brought New People into Politics

April 11, 2019 10:55 AM
By Tom Morris

Tom headshot

On June 24th 2016, my fiancée woke up, turned on her phone and swore. The United Kingdom had voted to leave the European Union. That day, I joined the Liberal Democrats.

Almost three years later, I am still a member. Writing this at end March, it is no clearer how or even whether we plan to depart from the EU. Whatever the decision, it will take decades to deal with its full ramifications.

There is a danger that we have become immune to this confusion. Rather than face the chaos of Brexit head on, many have opted to ignore it.

People are also put off by fanatics. The binary options of remain and leave do not offer a middle ground. This has left many feeling lost, unengaged and disenfranchised.

However, large groups of people now interact with politics on a daily basis. What's more, their interest has spread beyond our membership of the EU.

That's because Britain's vote to leave was never just about our relationship with Europe. In fact, most polls before the referendum showed that people were far more focused on austerity, the NHS and immigration.

But the Leave campaign harnessed these concerns and made Brexit seem like a solution. The tragedy is, these issues will remain in place after Brexit. In many cases, Brexit will make them worse.

Since 2016, masses of people, young and old, have realised this. And it has driven them to act. In the last two years, both Liberal Democrat and Labour parties have reported increases in party membership of over 20,000. What's more, these are normal people getting involved, not career politicians.

The desire to see real change from representatives of our own community has never been stronger. Local elections on May 2nd are your chance to make that happen.

Tom Morris, Sevenoaks