• Evelyne

Lessons for Millennials from the Brexit Vote

Updated: Oct 18, 2019



The results of the Brexit vote last week took the world by surprise.  While advance polls did show that there was a statistical chance that the vote could go the way it did, most pundits vehemently stuck to the notion that, at the end of the day, people would keep their heads and vote to stay.


The travel industry has been fairly vocal over the course of the weekend about its collective shock and dismay about the outcome.  Indeed, this industry, more than most others, views a unified Europe and cross-culturalism as a positive thing.  Our industry, particularly, thrives on the ability of people to cross borders and working unhindered, particularly in Europe (I include the UK in this group).  While it is very common in the US for hoteliers to spend their entire careers in-country, there isn’t a hotelier worth their salt in Europe who hasn’t worked in another country.  So the uncertainty of what Brexit will mean in human and business terms is casting a shadow on plans and expectations.


Time will tell how business issues settle as the realities and separation negotiations come to pass.  In the meanwhile, there are some critical lessons for Millennials as we review their participation in this democratic exercise we call VOTING.  It’s indisputable that Millennials had the most to gain from getting this vote right; after all, those are the ones who have to live the longest with the decision’s ramifications.  Unfortunately, they are also the ones least likely to vote.


Millennials (those born starting around 1980) and  generation Z that is following have never known a Europe that wasn’t united.  Many consider themselves “European” as well as British or English or German or French…  “The Continent” is not foreign or a threat to them, but a natural extension of their culture; they feel at home in Brussels and Amsterdam and Milan.

The Brexit vote highlights a sad reality among the electorate, with serious repercussions. While there was a 72.2% turnout (which would be extraordinary in the US, by the way!), older voters overwhelmingly chose to leave the EU. Millennials (30 and under) largely voted to remain.  The older generations turned out to vote in much large percentages, but the young ones, while certainly putting on a good showing at more than 65%, didn’t vote in quite the same numbers.


The Financial Times published a demographic breakdown shows that, with the exception of Oxford and Cambridge, which have a young politically active population, the turnout by age is evident.  Further, the “Leave” votes were also skewed by education and whether people had a passport.


The hangover of this vote was well and truly felt over the weekend with crashing markets and political posturing.  Whether the departure will be quick, slow, will happen at all or will spawn other exit referendums throughout the kingdom and Europe remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, the lessons for you youngsters include:

  1. In a democracy, it’s those who turn out in large numbers who will win and determine how your future goes – not necessarily the ones with the biggest stakes.

  2. Get educated about the issues so that you make an informed and calculated decisions.  EVERYTHING has pros and cons.  Don’t rely on campaign slogans – read up on the details and how they will affect you.

  3. Your vote matters! Make sure you go to the polls.  If you don’t you have no right to complain about how it turns out.

#brexit #millennials

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