Femi Oluwole, Co-founder and Chief Spokesperson for Our Future, Our Choice – writing in a personal capacity
On the May Day bank holiday, I joined an enthusiastic group of young people in north Cardiff to campaign with Carmen Smith – one of Plaid Cymru’s candidates in the European election.
Carmen is the youngest candidate standing in Wales, and it looks like she might in fact be the youngest candidate standing for any party anywhere in the UK.
I’ve known Carmen for a while now, through her campaigning with Our Future, Our Choice (OFOC), which I founded, as well as with the People’s Vote campaign and For Our Future’s Sake (FFS).
On a personal level, I’m thrilled to see her standing in this election because I know that she is a brilliant candidate and would be a fantastic representative for Wales in the European Parliament.
But I’m also frustrated – so frustrated – at the circumstances under which Carmen has been motivated to stand for election.
As young people, we are being forced to take control of our futures, and to stand up for what we believe in, because of the Brexit chaos dragging on in Westminster.
Brexit has created a state of emergency for young people. Even now, almost three whole years since the referendum, we are standing at the edge of a Brexit cliff, staring into the abyss.
It is no exaggeration to say that hundreds of thousands of young people up and down these islands are angry, frustrated, and saddened at what’s happening at the moment.
We are seeing Westminster politicians going around and around in circles, failing to achieve anything other than inching us every day closer and closer towards the edge of the cliff.
Meanwhile, that which young people and students all around Wales and up and down these islands hold most dear continues to be at risk from a Brexit we didn’t vote for.
Indeed, many of us didn’t even have a vote in 2016, and yet here we are, with a Westminster establishment inflicting this chaos upon us against our wishes.
That’s why so many hundreds of thousands of young people have been motivated to turn out at rallies and marches time after time to call for a People’s Vote.
Like her party, Plaid Cymru, Carmen has consistently supported the People’s Vote campaign almost from the very beginning
And I am incredibly proud of Carmen for the stance that she has taken, and continues to take, on the principle of a People’s Vote – because she believes it is the right and democratic thing to do.
The simple truth of the matter is that no one voted for this chaos. No one voted for Theresa May’s deal. No one voted for Jeremy Corbyn’s fence-sitting.
And in the last three years, more and more has become known about the destruction any kind of Brexit would inflict on communities and industries up and down Wales and the UK.
Indeed, more and more people have come to the same conclusion as me, Carmen, and Plaid Cymru, that there is no such thing as a ‘good Brexit’.
That is why it’s so important that a party which is unconditionally, unequivocally, and unambiguously in favour of a People’s Vote wins this election.
I’m incredibly proud of Carmen for the stance she is taking, and I’m grateful to her party, Plaid Cymru, for their strong support for a People’s Vote.
At 23 years old, Carmen is probably the youngest candidate standing for any party in the European election anywhere in the UK.
But she is also the most exciting – because of what she represents. And that is the ambition, vision, and hope of an entire generation of young people.
I realise that’s a lot of pressure to put on one person’s shoulders, but I know Carmen, and I know she shares my belief that Westminster’s Brexit chaos necessitates our generation acting urgently.
When we were out campaigning on Bank Holiday Monday, we spoke to dozens of residents who were fed up of Westminster’s Brexit mess, and tired of their communities being ignored.
The mission Carmen and her party have in this election is to make Wales matter. As her peer, I am proud to give Carmen my backing.
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