Lucy Woodcock is 26 years old, and originally from Derby. She was President of Bath University Students’ Union in 2016/2017. She is a supporter of For our Future’s Sake and the Conservatives.
In the last general election, I – like far more young people than many would have you believe – voted Conservative. Taking everything into consideration, I genuinely believed that as a party of free minds, free people and free markets, they were the best to deliver on the EU referendum result.
It goes without saying that when Theresa May arrived at Number 10, she was essentially taking a large sip from the poisoned chalice left for her by David Cameron, and had to fasten her seatbelt extra tight for what would undoubtedly be a roller-coaster ride ahead.
With the referendum result so close, she faced a divided country and an incredibly challenging situation. Amidst two years of political chaos, she has worked tirelessly to deliver on the referendum and negotiate Britain’s way out of the EU.
It can’t have been easy, but she has stuck with it. She has been continually let down, as many faltered have around her. The merry men of Brexit, such as Boris Johnson, David Davis, and Dominic Raab have gone, stabbing her in the back and left her wondering who she can really trust. Now this takes some resilience. She has rightly gained the sympathy of the British public for this.
I genuinely believe that this Brexit Deal – which by all accounts makes us poorer, less powerful and prosperous – is the best that May could get. Yet despite all her diligent efforts, the EU Withdrawal Agreement that’s been presented to us is a million miles away from the promises made in 2016, and too many red lines have been crossed.
If the Prime Minister really thinks that following through with this proposed deal is in the best interests of our country, I say it’s time to take off the rose-tinted glasses and stare down the barrel at the reality of what we’re being faced with.
Nobody voted for a deal that would make people poorer, curtail our rights, and limit opportunities. Nobody voted for a deal that would see our public services worse off and further damage the NHS. Nobody voted for a deal that would see us paying a £50 billion divorce bill and get nothing in return. Simply put, the deal is disastrous, and we’re not buying it.
And as much as the Conservative Party would like to think otherwise, it’s not just staunch Remainers that think this way. Those on the fence and many who originally supported Leave, have now concluded that this deal is simply not acceptable and that the people deserve a final say.
For months, we’ve been presented with the false binary option that it’s either May’s deal or no deal; a quite frankly feeble attempt to scaremonger and back people into supporting a shoddy deal. But we know that this isn’t the case. There is absolutely another option on the table and that is a People’s Vote.
At a time of national crisis, the Conservative Party has a lot to answer for. There’s been an utter lack of unity; instead we’ve witnessed MPs going rogue, briefing against each other, trying to stage a coup, and selfishly putting their own interests first. The salient image for me was Jacob Rees-Mogg holding his impromptu, self-serving, al-fresco press conference, as if he was the almighty saviour we’ve all been looking for.
Young people like me will never forgive a Conservative Party that sells our futures down the river. And when young people say something, trust me, we mean it. Just look what happened to the Liberal Democrats when they lied to us with tuition fees.
I therefore plead with the Prime Minister. If anything is clear from the madness of the last few days, it’s that there is no majority for her deal in Parliament. It will fall. At that point, a catastrophic No Deal becomes a very scary reality.
Despite this, May is determined to just get on with it. But getting on with it simply isn’t good enough. What happened to the hopes and dreams of a better future for the United Kingdom? As Jo Johnson MP rightly said last week – “how did our aspirations for ourselves as a country fall so far, and so fast?”.
There are thousands – if not millions – of young people like me, who hold the keys to key marginal seats and Downing Street for the Conservative Party. At a time when the Labour Party look like a less than appealing prospect, and most other parties irrelevant, there is a significant opportunity for May.
But only if she stands by the courage of her convictions.
And this is more than high-minded idealism. The reality is that a People’s Vote might be the only thing which keeps the Conservative Party together.
Right now the Conservative Party look like self-serving politicians, climbing over each other to be next in line for the throne. May can rise above that. She can be the Prime Minister who finally gives the British people a clear choice on the biggest political issue of our lifetime.
And if she does that, she may just be the Prime Minister that saves the Conservative Party as well.