Cameron called the 2016 referendum that led to Brexit
It has been eight years since the Brexit referendum was held by the Conservative government, led by former Prime Minister David Cameron at the time. Photo: AFP / JUSTIN TALLIS AFP News

It has been eight years since the Brexit referendum was held by the Conservative government, led by former Prime Minister David Cameron at the time.

For younger Brits, those aged 11 to 13 at the time, the 'vote remain' or 'vote leave' debate was confusing as it ripped the nation in two – with 51.9 per cent of the population voting to leave against 48.1 per cent voting to remain in the EU.

Since the UK officially left the EU, in January 2020 and led by the newly appointed Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the younger generations were forced to bear the brunt of their new fate.

While the right-wing government promised that Brexit would bring independent money management and new laws, the UK has been tackling inflation, immigration debates and the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those who were unable to vote when the Brexit referendum was held in 2016, now aged 18 to 25 years old, have since spoken out about how the independence scheme has changed their lives.

Martha, a 19-year-old Artist and Activist from Oxfordshire, was just 15 years old when the UK and EU ties were cut.

Martha told International Business Times UK: "I think the main thing about Brexit is that people age 18 to 19 now, didn't have the chance to vote on it then. And the fact is, is that the repercussions affect us the most."

"It affects our lives hugely and we didn't even get a say," the 19-year-old added.

Despite the government offering a High Potential Individual visa scheme to a selection of international students who wish to study in the UK for free, Martha said that Brexit has limited her career plan, considering she "can't afford to be an international student in Europe".

The 19-year-old also believes that, since Brexit, the nature of universities in the UK has become "money-making machines" that "is enough to put anyone off".

Although Brexit "initially sparked my engagement in politics", having witnessed the outcome, Martha added: "The actual shame I have about us leaving the EU is major."

In regard to the government not allowing 16 to 17-year-olds to vote on the matter, Martha told International Business Times UK that it "is such an important voter group to enact change in the UK", but now, "Brexit has put people off voting more than ever before in history".

"Brexit and the events after have seen a huge decline in people's engagement in politics especially young people because we didn't even get a breath to say hold up, this ain't all that," she added.

In her opinion, with regard to Sunak's relentless push for the Rwanda Bill, leaving the EU has "allowed the Tories to use Brexit as a springboard for political play on issues such as refugees, immigration, racism. All of which is being spun off a decision half the country didn't get a say in!"

Magali, a 21-year-old Student who was born in France but has lived in the UK for more than a decade, was 17 years old when Brexit officially took place.

Although she has a French passport, the 21-year-old said that her life has still been hugely affected by Brexit.

"The post-Brexit situation has caused important decisions in my life as a student because my degree is now not recognised abroad and I cannot work in my field in my home country," Magali said.

Leaving the EU has also affected older generations, the 21-year-old explained: "My mum was a mature student and was studying during the Brexit referendum, she moved back to France after 5 years of work only to find out that her master's degree is now not recognised."

Magali went on to recognise: "My French passport has been a blessing to have since Brexit, I'm reassured that I can go study abroad in Europe for further education without too much trouble. But, I'm contrary to my friends, who now struggle with visas and having a British passport."