Seven days to make-up your mind on our future in the European Union

Dr Darren Sharpe is a Sociologist based at the Institute of Health and Human Development (IHHD) within the University of East London (UEL). 

He specialises in user involvement in social policy and health research. 

Darren has joined us on The Student Room to talk about the EU referendum taking place on 23rd June 2016.

Time's running out

There's only one week remaining until the UK referendum on EU membership and if you are interested in gaining a better understanding of the issues being debated there is still time to find out more information. For example, what will the impact of leaving the European Union mean not only for the UK economy but culture? And what will ‘leave’ or ‘remain’ actually look like? 

Get up and vote

Whilst older voters do not shy away from giving their viewpoint, it is younger voters who need an informed voice because it is your future that people are gambling. In my opinion, you represent a weighty but somewhat dormant voting bloc. The voices of young voters could redefine the future of the UK in Europe as they did in the case of the Scottish referendum. However, if you decide to stay at home not only is UK democracy weakened, but of equal concern is the future of the European project itself. This vote is not about party politics, it is not about personalities nor nostalgia of Britain’s past, the vote it is about all our futures, particularly the young. 

Remain or Leave

What is absolutely clear to me is that there are ‘no’ certainties or absolutes I can give you to reassure you of the outcome to remain or leave. My intention is not to influence how you vote but simply to encourage you to make an informed decision and go out to vote. The crucial question is whether Britain will survive and thrive more outside or inside the EU? Both scenarios carry their own set of risk and challenges argued sometimes eloquently but more often than not forcefully by the remain and leave campaigns. 

Although the debate to date has been presented as a set of coherent choices, in reality on the 23rd June voters will be casting their ballet based on an emotional decision - supported by the facts and figures they’ve been exposed too. So look at the figures and facts but do not look for any truths in them. You will have to make-up your own mind about the pros and cons of the UK being in or out of the EU. 


How did the EU come about?

For instance, the European Union - also known as the ‘European project’ by its insiders - is itself an entity dreamed up following the end of World War Two to help create a more prosperous and secure Europe. Arguably, the EU succeeded in its initial mission. This dream was made real through core agreements such as the Common Market (1973) and Lisbon Treaty (2007), which embody the vision of free movement of people, goods and services across EU states. 

Today, it is the implementation of these three core principles that challenges our sense of sovereignty and person-hood in an increasingly interconnected, interdependent and turbulent world. 

Points to consider

Commentators and politicians have tended to reduce these principles down to ‘immigration’ and the ‘economy’ but there are lots of other points to be considered. 

  • EU research funding to the UK
  • The EU job market and employment rights
  • Training and education in the EU
  • Rapid migration growth to the UK from the EU
  • Peace and stability in Europe
  • On-going Union of England, Scotland, Wales and North Ireland if we vote to leave
  • Eurozone crisis
  • European security and sustainability challenges
  • Travel costs to Europe
  • Renegotiation of trade deals in EU and the rest of the world
  • The knock-on effect to the EU project if Britain was to leave
  • Promotion of democracy, human rights and the rule of law across Europe
  • Leading Europe
  • Taking back British Sovereignty


Getting an understanding of these topics isn’t too hard, but you need to do your own research. It is easy to get caught up with headlines without considering the impact it will have on your dreams and aspirations. Many of the issues mentioned above may not affect you immediately but could affect you later in life. A vote either way will change the nature of UK’s relationship with Europe so it is important to consider the impact both ways before making a decision. 

To help understand the issues we have developed an accessible website on the UK EU referendum, following research which shows 81% of 12-to-24 year olds feel that they don’t know enough about the EU and how it affects their everyday lives. The easy-to-understand tools break down some of the complexities involved with the referendum, colourfully presenting information on a range of topics, including security; the environment and sustainable energy; income and economic justice; education; travel and transport.

You can also join our debate which takes place on Thursday 16 June in Stratford at the University of East London supported by the Institute of Ideas’ Debating Matters Competition. 

To conclude, it is important to get informed and vote as every ballot counts and will shape the future course of the UK. Do not be a by-stander to history and take control of your own future.

For more on the EU referendum, head to the politics forum and have your say now!