Welcome to The Conversation: It's not all about Brexit in Swansea

  • Video report and words by ITV News Reporter Ben Chapman

If Brexit has changed the political geography in this election, Swansea’s political geography students had no part to play in it.

“How many of you voted in the EU referendum?” I ask the class. Not a single hand shoots up.

These are first time voters, ready to put the theory into practice when their lectures finish at the end of term. They’re desperate for it not to be all about Brexit.

“Everything’s been overshadowed and it’s really annoying,” says Maisie.

“It’s so frustrating,” agrees Lucy. “There are so many problems, like climate change. It’s just not spoken about as much as it should be.”

Students in Swansea have more than Brexit on their mind. Credit: ITV News

They’re not sure yet who to vote for. They don’t trust Boris Johnson and are already suspicious of big Labour promises of free tuition fees and broadband.

Biology student Brandon is more forgiving.

“It will definitely be Labour. I just feel as though they really give young people a voice,” he tells me.

Sophie will vote in her home constituency. Credit: ITV News

But for students here, where to vote can be just as important as who to vote for. Swansea University’s Singleton campus is in a solid Labour seat.

In the student bar I find some that are determined to overturn Conservative majorities in their home constituencies.

“Where I’m from, there’s a closer margin between the Tory party which is pro-Brexit and the Lib Dems who are against Brexit,” says Sophie. “So I’ll be voting Lib Dem.”

Aaron, left, will be voting to stop a hard Brexit. Credit: ITV News

There is still bemusement here that a majority of people in Wales voted to leave the EU, when so many EU-funded projects have taken place here. The university itself received 49.4 million Euros to help fund a new campus.

In the Geography department, I thought I might find students with bigger issues on their minds than Brexit. They do: they’re studying climate change. But Europe also funds much of their research, and its laws offer protection for the environment.

“I always want to vote Green but it just won’t make any difference,” says Aaron. “I think I’ll have to vote Labour to avoid getting the Conservatives and to avoid a hard Brexit.”

There are lots of people here who would love this election to be about more than Brexit. The reality is that it remains the one issue that is difficult to separate from the others.

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