The economic argument for voting to stay in the European Union is overwhelming. The common sense argument even more so. But what of the personal arguments? They’ve been largely ignored, a matter of ill-importance, especially for the average Brexit supporter, coiled up in tight nationalist circles of hate and bitter resentment. I’m from Yorkshire, and though I haven’t lived there for almost 8 years, I am still shocked and offended by the tone of the arguments that are arising from one of England’s most pleasantly serene green counties.
But I want to forget all that. I have so much to say on the Brexit debate, but I’m not a political writer so I implore you to read this excellent piece of commentary on the debate and the degenerate tactics of the Vote Leave side, by the tirelessly passionate Nick Cohen at The Gaurdian and this by David Smith at The Times if you want to read an economic argument for Remain. For the funny side of the story – watch the excellent return episode of Eurotrash.
I want to concentrate on my own personal case to remain in the EU.
First and foremost my reason to stay is travel and life in general. I was born in the industrial north, Sheffield, in the heart of South Yorkshire, to cries to oust Margaret Thatcher and the thunderous clasps of machinery ever present. Born into England, the United Kingdom, Europe and the European Union. I’ve had the right to freely live, work and play in Europe all of my life – and I want to keep that right.
I married in Denmark. My wife, born in Russia, now holds a German passport. We are both Europeans and neither of us have been to our countries of residence (both Germany and the UK) for the last 2 years. There will be no simplicity in figuring out what to do post-Brexit. We will literally have no idea what comes next for us (not for England – that’s clear: bigoted hate, financial depression and little England will become a huge reality). A feeling similar to what EU nationals living in the UK and vice-versa are feeling. This aside though – the ability to travel by train through Europe, pass into Denmark and without planning, marry next to The Wadden Sea on a slightly too grey autumn morning? Wonderful and yet possibly unthinkable in a post-Brexit world.
The Vote Leave argument is mostly one of misguided xenophobia, fear of immigration and ignorance of the facts. But these things don’t affect these people in their daily lives. People seem to think they’ll have more money and more jobs the instant Britain closes its doors on the EU – but that simply isn’t true. A certain truth for many millions of people though is that what we’ve known as basic, simple freedoms – from travel like I’ve already mentioned to expatriation and even things we take for granted, such as EU goods in the shops, will be gone or at least irreparably changed for a very long time. Immigration is here to stay – with or without the EU, especially the kind of immigration that really upsets the exceptionally Islamophobic leave campaign. For this has nothing at all to do with the EU.
My reasons, like many more may well be personal, but isn’t this what this vote is all about? We’re told to “take back our country” but if we follow those people blindly into Brexit, we will lose all control. We won’t be the Europeans we are today. We will be that island of people who abandoned their closest friends in their greatest time of need. Those who vote to leave will very soon come to understand that they have simply voted to float the careers of people like Boris Johnson, who has proven he is as much an opportunist as he is hypocritical. We are forgetting, it would seem, what it means to be loyal, to face adversary instead of running away from it and to move forwards instead of backwards.
I voted to stay in the EU for these reasons and because I am a European: both geographically and politically.
Anyway, diverting once more from the overtly political side of it. I’d like to share the wonderful thoughts and actions of people from around the world who have come together in celebration of Britain, in a bid to keep us in the EU, because this isn’t just about politics – it’s about friendship, relationships and looking outwards and forwards.
Parisians today descended on King’s Cross Station to hand out postcards to Brits, some marked with red lipsticks and others, with passionate pleas and with real, everyday reasons to stay.
People from across Europe formed kissing chains to show support for a UK in the EU.
Buildings in Warsaw, London and Paris showed the Union Jack to show support for staying in the European Union, and two very English (probably pro) Brexit-girls at Royal Ascot earlier this month.
Lastly, to quote Brett Anderson, and leave you with something of incredible relevance both for this website and the referendum debate:
“Europe is our playground, London is our town”