**Family rifts over Brexit: ‘I can barely look at my parents’
The EU referendum result has thrown many thousands of people, particularly young adults, into bitter conflict with the closest members of their families – divisions that ‘won’t heal any time soon’
‘I’m worried Brexit has made me ageist,” a friend said, following the shock of the referendum result on Friday morning. “I saw this older couple in the street and just felt this sudden, enormous wave of fury towards them and their generation. It was almost physical.”
In the immediate aftermath of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, emotions have been running high. Since YouGov reported that 75% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 56% of 25- to 49-year-olds voted in favour of remain, versus 44% of 50- to 64-year-olds and 39% of those over 65, the extent of the generational gulf between Generation Y and the so-called baby boomers and their parents has been palpable. As has the anger many younger people including my friend, are feeling.
Over the past few days, thousands have vented on social media. “I’m never giving up my seat on the train for an old person again,” read one tweet. The overwhelming consensus on the part of “millennials” (defined as those aged 18-34), has been that, by opting for Brexit, the older generation has selfishly voted against the interests of subsequent ones. What happens if the people voting against your interests were members of your own family: your parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts?
Stephanie is 21, from Merseyside, and was visiting her parents for the week of the referendum. “Right from the moment I got back I was bombarded with questions about which side I was on and why,” she said. “I’m not one to shy away from healthy debate, but my parents completely refused to see things from any point of view but their own, and would deliberately misunderstand my view or rubbish it completely.
“After the leave result, my parents continued to insult and degrade the 48% of us [who voted remain], with my dad at one point getting into an argument with a family friend who is an EU citizen and telling her she ‘should leave if she loves the EU so much’. Even when stories of legitimised racism and xenophobia were highlighted, my parents refused to accept this may have been partly because of the leave vote,” she adds.
The referendum may have ruined Stephanie’s trip home, but it has shifted her perspective. “What was supposed to be a nice week turned into a week of being belittled and endless arguments, and I have never felt so insulted by members of my own family before. As much as I love my parents, this referendum has made me see them in a different light – people who are unwilling to listen to the opinions of others and disrespectful of those with legitimate concerns about what their opinion could lead to.”**