Jun 13 2016 BY Bilal Shariff

On June 23rd arguably the UK’s most important referendum to date will take place following years of debate on Britain’s place in Europe. While there’re been divisive reasons from leaving or remaining I feel there are things you need to ask yourself prior to the EU referendum as the liberties we take for granted can be taken away from us just like that if we do not vote to remain in the European Union. The day is coming, as Paddy McGuiness famously says: “The power is in your hands,” the power is quite literally in our hands as British and EU citizens to decide to whether to stay or leave. 23rd June 2016 is when we are given the right to participate in the referendum which could potentially define our futures.

The impact of leaving the EU on 16-25-years-olds is staggering and goes beyond what was initially thought. The campaign to leave has a reoccurring theme to use immigration and the much-discussed issues it brings to the UK without realising that there are also a large number of British Citizens taking advantage of the free movement within the EU by residing in other member states. Showing a potential hypocrisy in the lead argument to leave, as why should it be acceptable for British Citizens to reside elsewhere, whilst having the reluctance to accept others into your country. 1.4 million British people live abroad in the EU. More than 14,500 UK students took part in the European Union’s Erasmus student exchange scheme in 2012-13, further emphasising the benefit of remaining in the EU as it would be a deterrent for gaining education for many people in Britain.

On average 30% of 18-year-olds in Britain go to University (Jo Johnson, Universities and Science Minister 2015), showing a substantial increase from our parent’s time, begging the question as to why? The EU plays a major role in the further education we receive and are entitled to. The UK is the second largest beneficiary of EU research funds, and the British Government anticipates further EU research funding to provide a crucial source of income for our world-leading universities and global research institutes/companies.

The impact BREXIT could have may damage the student experience we are fortunate to have today. Study abroad years or semesters would be greatly influenced by this campaign as students would not be able to afford the costs, as you would have to factor in a travel visa (varying on your stay), private healthcare insurance and take extra precautions when making arrangements due to less protection from EU regulatory bodies such as ABTA. These added complications may deter students and other young people from travelling as they would be able to cater for these new barriers to the movement which would be created.

It is well documented that unemployment, particularly youth unemployment is very high in spite of Britain currently being a member of the European Union. Government statistics show 631,000 young people aged 16-25 were unemployed in March 2016, which is alarmingly high, however, it can be strongly argued that if Britain were to leave this number would increase at an exponential rate. It’s estimated 3.5 million British jobs have a direct link to Britain’s membership to the EU, which accounts for an estimated one-in-ten British jobs, labouring the point that Britain would be in a far off state if they were to vote, therefore urging you to vote to remain in the EU.

Further, due to our membership with the EU getting a lot of our guilty pleasures will become a lot harder. The EU promotes trade within member states making our favourite comfort foods and luxury purchases easier to obtain. EU imports were recorded at $1.69 trillion, showing how much we rely on inter-regional trade. The brands and products we consume and see as normal, such as Louis Vuitton handbags, Christian Dior shades and Chanel lipstick will not be as readily available and will, in fact, make them less appealing as the price of goods would increase. If we were to leave employment would fall and so would our incomes, pushing the things we love the most that bit further away.

The EU provides a lot more than what we are grateful for, the protection we view as “the norm” would be hindered. The European Arrest Warrant enables the UK to extradite criminals wanted in other EU countries, and bring to justice to the region, promoting a culture of safety. The core idea of protection is in conjunction with the chronic issue of “the Environment.” As the EU has a basic standard of living in regard to the purity of the atmosphere and the cut back in pollution and the use of fossil fuels, promoting a healthier experience for those living and holiday making in Europe.

Britain has always had the reputation of being a world leader and powerful nation that prides itself as being the forerunner and trendsetter as opposed to being a follower. By leaving the EU Britain will show weakness and a submission of power to more influential bodies. Therefore, it’s pivotal for us and for future generations to come to unite, stay strong and vote to remain in the European Union.