Written by Annissa Warsame
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, our former President Student Experience, is now the co-founder of the “anti-Brexit” movement ‘For Our Future’s Sake’, abbreviated FFS, and is the driving force behind an open letter, signed by 120 elected student representatives. On Sky News yesterday, Chetwynd-Cowieson debated on how Brexit is of paramount importance to students and youth and their voices should be heard; “with 750,000 people turning eighteen, every year.”
FFS is a movement that was founded in March, and it calls for a vote on the final Brexit deal. They describe themselves as a “youth & student-led anti Brexit campaign, fighting for a #PeoplesVote on the terms of the Brexit deal. For our Future’s Sake”.
The open letter was addressed to Parliament and was signed mostly by sabbatical officers; together representing nearly a million students. Included in the signatories are our very own student Union presidents, Dean Pomeroy and Harry Bishop. The letter calls for support for a ‘People’s Vote’, which is according to FFS’s co-founder Chetwynd-Cowieson, is a chance to review the final terms of the Brexit and vote for or against the deal.
Tom Harwood who led the student wing of Vote Leave and was a one-time NUS Presidential candidate, disagrees and argues:
…that calling for a ‘People’s Vote’ “is such an unproductive and petulant conversation, we [young people] need to get over ourselves.”
He adds, during the Sky News debate, that; “it’s such a transparent attempt to try to overturn the last referendum [result] which happened less than two years ago.”
Also on the claim that a ‘million students join calls for vote on Brexit deal’, Harwood alleges that: “This isn’t anywhere close to a million people demanding this. This is around a hundred people from the NUS who have got together and who are very upset that the referendum didn’t go the way that they wanted it to go.”
Instead, according to Harwood, “they want to have another go and if this one [vote] doesn’t go the way they want it to go they want to have another one and another one and another one. It’s getting to the point of farcical, really.”
Amatey Doku, spokesperson for FFS and deputy president of the NUS, has said on the record before that as “an elected representative body of 600 student unions, NUS is calling for a people’s vote on the Brexit deal.’” However, Chetwynd-Cowieson vehemently denies this is an NUS-led campaign rather “it is from Student Unions from across the UK. So, everyone from Wales, Northern Ireland, England and Scotland, different unions, different sized memberships.”
Adding that: “They think their members will be better served by having a ‘Peoples’ Vote’ on the terms of the Brexit deal. They have a mandate to do this, many of them have pro-remain policies at their unions, and they read the letter and they’ve taken very seriously what it says, and they all feel that their members are going to be served best with the membership benefits we get from the EU.”
“They respect the initial vote, but this is a very different question that they’re asking.”
The movements’ current strategy seems to be comprised of utilising social media- with an aesthetically pleasing campaign- to drum up support. As of yesterday student representatives, en masse, have been tweeting MP’s.
Insofar as finding any tangible action by FFS, its open letter has been most striking thus far, reaching national newspapers across the nation such as, The Guardian, The Daily Mail and The Independent.
With participation in marches and collaboration with similar movements like Chuka Umunna’s Open Britain, the closer to Brexit we are, campaign activity proportionally rises. A ‘People’s Vote’ march is planned on 23rd June which FFS will partake in, with other pro-EU movements.