2018 will be a big year in British history. 2016 was a year when our movement suffered a defeat, but we only lost a battle, not the war. In 2018, we are in it to win it.
Young European Movement UK is the oldest pro-European youth organisation in the UK, open for people under the age of 35. When you stop to think about what that means in the year 2018, you get chills. We are the young people in this country who care about this the most. We represent millions of people who think Britain’s place is in Europe, not outside. We do it at a time when the country’s destiny is at stake. We are this country’s future. We are the people.
Our movement has a deadline. For sure, even if Britain leaves the EU in March 2019, it will return. But the damage would most likely take years to repair.
If we don’t do our job by the end of 2018, we will most likely spend the best years of our early adulthood deprived of some of the rights and opportunities that we cherish the most. This applies not only to Brits who plan to stay in Britain, but also to Brimmigrants like me, who have made the UK our home. We all have a special connection to the UK, and ensuring that the country remains open and European in the future is in the self-interest of all of us. We’re all in this together.
Leaving the EU is not what we wanted in 2016. The facts haven’t changed since 2016: the best deal that Britain can have is EU membership. Anything less than that is less than ideal for the country, and for us as individuals. Why not aim for the gold medal?
We shoulder an immense social responsibility. History will ask what the young generation – those who voted to Remain or would have if they had been asked, those whom Brexit hits the hardest – did to stop it. History will ask what YEM did.
History is asking you and me to write it, all the while we both have our own lives to live. We have essay deadlines coming up. Perhaps we are in love (I mean with a person, in addition to Europe). Maybe we have other personal projects and plans. Most of us find ourselves in one or more of these situations. But what also unites us is an acute understanding that our futures, and the future of this country, are also at stake in the next twelve months. And what also unites us is our desire to do our utmost. When history asks you and me what we did in 2018, we want to be proud to answer the question.
We will say that we signed up for YEM. We went to events in our city. We organised street stalls and converted people around us, one by one, until a change in the public opinion could no longer go unseen. We attended and helped to organise rallies to #StopBrexit. We organised socials, talks, seminars, pub quizzes, fashion shows and whatnot to engage other young people with Europe. We went outside. We were seen. We were heard.
We communicated the cause online. We wrote blog posts. We made graphics and videos to share on YEM channels. We wrote letters to local newspapers’ editors. We wrote to our MPs. We signed petitions. We retweeted and shared YEM on our phones before going to bed. We travelled to our JEF partners’ events to ensure Britain is represented among pro-European groups abroad. We asked our friend to do the same.
We asked ourselves, “What are my skills and abilities? What can I offer to YEM? How much time can I spend on YEM, and how can I best spend that time to promote the cause?” We walked the extra mile. We recognised the urgency of the situation, and decided to do something we hadn’t done before. We got in touch with our local YEM branch or the YEM UK team to offer our ideas, or simply ask what we could do.
When we do all of this, we can be proud of what we did. We will notice that we made a difference in 2018, that history books will talk about what we did do, not about what we did not do. We will notice that 2018 was a year when we learned new skills, grew as individuals, and became our best selves.
We will notice that by the end of 2018, YEM will be bigger than it has ever been before. We will know that we stood up to the task.
We will know that we were a part of a movement that could only have been built by young people, in Britain, in 2018. We will know that one day someone will make a dramatised feature film about what we did. We will remember January 1, 2018, as the day when we decided to become a part of this incredible story.
Young European Movement UK