IN can only win with the support of young people: it’s our chance to shape Britain’s future

I know it is tough to be optimistic about politics at the moment, especially if you are under 35. The general election campaign was negative and divisive on all sides; perks appear to be flowing to the over 65s (who vote en masse) while younger people suffer disproportionately from runaway house prices, stagnant wages and spiralling student debt. For those who don’t feel politicians are acting to help on the issues that affect their daily lives, it’s hardly a shock that there is not widespread enthusiasm about the EU referendum on the 23rd June.

I completely understand the impulse to look at the referendum, see it as an issue that fascinates Daily Express readers and Nigel Farage fans, but one won’t matter too much either way to you, your friends or family.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. This is the most significant vote that anyone aged 35 or younger has ever faced and the younger you are, the higher the stakes. IN or OUT, Britain’s decision on the EU will shape our country for the next generation — our generation. The referendum will set the direction of the country on everything from our role in the world and the future shape of our economy, through to the opportunity to travel, work and holiday in the other 27 member states; home to 450 million people.

What is more, there is compelling evidence that the choice of under-35s will decide the outcome. This scares many people in Westminster, but I see it as a huge opportunity. This is not an election with safe seats or wasted votes. The balance of power is in the hands of younger voters and there will be no better opportunity to make a statement about the type of country we want to live in.

Britain remains a global power; our influence is disproportionate to our size because of our relationships with the EU, the USA and the Commonwealth. A vote to stay in the EU is encouraged by our allies around the world, who see our membership of the EU as an asset, not a barrier to trade and co-operation. In a world made smaller by the forces of globalisation, a vote to stay in would reaffirm the British commitment to being a constructive partner on the global challenges we face, from terrorism and security, through to climate change.

In is the only choice if you want the British economy to thrive. Membership of the EU grants us access to a single market of 500 million people; a boost to British companies and a draw for organisations from across the world. Don’t believe for a minute that Nissan would have set-up home in Sunderland if it wasn’t able to export freely to the rest of the EU, or the City of London would be home to an array of international banks if the UK wasn’t a member of the single market. Big employers don’t choose the UK out of sentimentality; they are here today to benefit from our position as an internationalist country at the heart of the EU. The jobs of tomorrow rely on us protecting and celebrating that status.

The European Union isn’t a perfect institution, but show me one that is. I feel lucky to have grown up in a country where we think nothing of £50 flights to Spain and travelling through Europe with a quick flash of a British/EU passport. Lucky to work and live in a city that is home to many of the most dynamic businesses in the world. Lucky that Europe is leading the world in moving to a greener, more sustainable economy.

Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and everyone else who believes that Britain’s best days are in the past want you to stay at home, or vote out in this referendum. But this is not for them to decide. I ask everyone who believes that our best days are ahead of us to go out and make a statement on the 23rd June; vote IN for a safer, stronger and more prosperous Britain, vote IN to shape Britain’s future.

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