The co-founder of Our Future Our Choice left her degree to fight for a second referendumby Peter Chappell / March 12, 2019 / Leave a comment
“I cried,” concedes Lara Spirit. It was the day of the People’s March in central London, and she was running across St James’s Park. And then someone told her an estimated 700,000 people had turned out to support a second Brexit referendum. “I literally just burst out crying,” she tells me over lunch at Brunswick House, Vauxhall. Spirit is a co-founder of the Our Future, Our Choice (OFOC) youth movement for a People’s Vote, along with Will Dry and Femi Oluwole, and we meet just as the movement is again gaining momentum with the 29th March drawing near.
The march in October last year was one of the largest in decades, and Spirit remembers it as a high point in the campaign. OFOC was founded with Lara and Will sleeping on the floors of friend’s flats in London, and has now grown to a national campaign. At 21 years old, Spirit decided to leave her Cambridge politics degree behind, having requested leave from her College for “exceptional circumstances.” Those exceptional circumstances have seen her appear regularly as a representative for the over 70 per cent of young people who voted Remain in the Brexit referendum.
Spirit grew up in Chichester in west Sussex, her father a natural Conservative voter and her mother voting Green. “My parents argued about various different things all the time,” which led her to position her politics “somewhere in the middle.” Her parents “weren’t hugely on board” when she told them her plans to temporarilygive up her place at Cambridge: “it was hard at the beginning,” she admits.
Opinions on Brexit have split many families down the middle, and Spirit’s family are little different. “My grandmother and I have lots of arguments about it,” she says. “We come at the world from, like, a different way.” What does her grandmother make of her granddaughter campaigning to stop something she voted for? “She thinks that the levels of immigration are too high,” Spirit says, describingher grandmother’s worldview as “nostalgic, definitely.” She stops herself there—she doesn’t “want to say anything which sounds disrespectful.”
When Britain voted to leave the EU in June 2016, everything changed for Spirit. “Everyone in Cambridge who was Remain-voting in the referendum did far too little” to win support for the cause, she says. Appalled by the result, she got into contact with an old private…