NUS-USI President Olivia Potter-Hughes has said a people’s vote referendum on Brexit is needed, because people were essentially denied the full facts and implications on leaving the EU during the 2016 referendum. It would be ludicrous to make such a major decision based upon such a narrow margin during one snapshot of opinion, and said another referendum was a route to stopping Brexit. A delegation of student leaders including Olivia visited Brussels recently to apply pressure to have their objectives around freedom of movement, student mobility and opportunities, Good Friday Agreement rights and research funding addressed to mitigate potential negative impacts of Brexit. NUS-USI is the biggest representative organisation in Northern Ireland with around 200,000 members.
NUS-USI President Olivia Potter-Hughes said: “Let’s face it, the best deal we can get is the deal we currently have as EU members. We have for the past two years put forward NUS-USI’s objectives to mitigate the potential damage that Brexit will do. We can see little or no effort from government to deliver on our very pragmatic objectives, therefore we will now apply pressure to deliver a people’s vote referendum to enable us to stay within the EU.
“The whole Brexit referendum and negotiation process has been one massive national embarrassment on the international stage. If there is a people’s referendum, the public will have the opportunity to stop the car crash that is Brexit, and to start re-building international relations.
“I think virtually everyone, whether they were a remain or leave voter, would admit that the negotiations and the fallout from Brexit have been disastrous and deeply unsettling for the whole UK, and particularly for Northern Ireland.
“In light of the utter farce and chaos that has engulfed the Brexit process since the referendum result was announced, the public must be given another chance to have its say on what direction the UK should take on Brexit.
“It is crucial that we have a people’s vote on this issue, because it would be ludicrous to make such a massive decision based upon a narrow margin in the referendum following a campaign where people were not furnished with the full facts and ramifications of Brexit.
“There is still massive uncertainty around the tuition fees that students studying on a cross border basis will face. Also, if we stay within the Erasmus+ after Brexit there may be none of the current student financial support available, which may make this excellent programme inaccessible to many students. We are also worried that the Good Friday Agreement could be undermined, because we are worried that depending on whether you hold a UK or Irish passport, you may have EU rights or may be denied them.
“Northern Ireland, and the border, almost went unmentioned in the wider debate during the 2016 EU referendum, and this illustrates the flawed nature of this referendum result. There must be an informed referendum so people can reflect on all the Brexit-related uncertainty, and have option to stop the shambles that is Brexit.”