Brexit: the legacy we leave our young people

75% of young people voted for remain, but it is they who will have to pick up the pieces from the shambles that their parents and grandparents have left them. 

Not just the grim reality of an isolated and poorer Britain, following self-inflicted ejection from the EU, but the enormous debts that have yet to be paid. Our national debt is expected to be over £1.5tn by the end of this financial year. We have been living on tick for years and there will be a reckoning.

Ironically, the £120bn wiped of the value of UK companies in the first fifteen minutes of stock market trading this morning was enough to pay our EU membership fees for nearly a decade.

Our young people will also have to come to terms with the resurgence of the far right in both the UK and in Europe. Already, Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom, has called for the Netherlands to hold its own referendum, and Mariane le Pen, leader of the Front Nationale, will be eyeing the Elysée Palace in the French Presidential elections next year.

The new generation must be resolute. They must fight back the forces of fear, xenophobia and populism that remind many of us of the 1930s. Frankly, we have failed them all, and I hope that they have the determination, energy and capacity to put right the mistakes we, their parents, have now forced them to deal with.

For the European project, the French Presidential Election in April/May 2017 becomes absolutely critical. The French electoral system has, fortunately proved to be a hurdle too high for the far right. In 2002, the socialists voted for Chirac in the second round to keep his rival Jen Marie le Pen at bay.

The voting system gives the French people the wherewithal to vote tactically to keep out the Front Nationale, and there is no reason why that should not happen again.

It may be that one Member State, Hungary the most likely, may follow us out of the EU, but I believe that despite the impending divorce with the UK the European project has too much invested in it by France and Germany in particular for it to fall apart.

In the UK, those who voted Brexit will come to realise that all the promises made by their leaders during the campaign are empty and worthless. The NHS is not going to improve, immigrants are still going to come to the UK, and negotiating trade deals with the Americans or Chinese, the EU or the Commonwealth, will be tortuous.  Brexit politicians will find it impossible to meet the needs of their supporters.  There will be no sunlit upland.

I predict that the cold hard reality of an England (for Scotland and Ireland will surely secede from the Union) in the globalised world will eventually see off these nostalgics and isolationists forever. But it will be too late. We won’t be invited back into Europe.

While the Prime Minister’s resignation comes as no surprise, future generations will judge both him and George Osborne very harshly. A soft Eurosceptic, Mr Cameron never faced up to the Europhobes in the Tory party and sought constantly to buy them off. This was a catastrophic decision.

He gambled with the future of this country for the sake of party politics and lost.

And finally, what of Labour? Corbyn’s failure to galvanise the Labour vote is another failure of leadership and today’s vote precedes the death rattle of a political party. If Scotland votes to leave the Union in IndyRef2, Labour are finished as an alternative party of Government.

That may be music to the ears of the Tory right, but for anyone who believes in the merits of our parliamentary democracy, the prospect of one-party Government in England and Wales, especially one populated by the Brexit politicians, is another nightmare to be visited on our poor benighted children.