The vote to leave the EU felt personal for Amalie Rust O’Neill, a graphic design student born and brought up in Brighton but with family from Sweden, Poland and Ireland. “My family are the Polish builders. I am the person they are voting to keep out,” said the 22-year-old. “I felt sick, scared and sad.” After years of work for a degree, her hopes for the next decade were crushed on the same day as she got her results. And she feels they were torn up by an older generation with no concern for either the future of their country or the dreams of its young people. “As a creative, living and working abroad has always been a dream. The fact that it has been stripped away is horrible. The fact that people chose to strip it away is worse,” she says. That anger and despair was echoed by young people around the country, who chose overwhelmingly to stay inside Europe and now feel betrayed by the older voters who secured victory for Brexit. About three-quarters of 18- to 24-year-olds who voted cast ballots for Remain, while three in five over-60s opted to Leave, surveys show.
“I feel quite bitter that the older generation can celebrate victory, while young people have suffered such defeat and will have to live longest with this decision,” said Phoebe Warneford-Thomson, an 18-year-old from Bristol who, along with most of her friends, voted to stay in the EU.
There were bleak jokes across social media, driven by a powerful anger at being sacrificed for the short-term self-interest of people who would not have to face all the consequences.
“The older generation voting to leave the EU is the same as your mate picking the film then leaving 20 minutes in,” one teenager joked on Facebook. Others took to Twitter. “I’m not giving up my seat to the elderly anymore. Eye for an eye.” said @DavidVujanic, a London-based comedian with Serbian roots.