Why I voted Remain – Wir bleiben hier


Apparently there are people in their 20s saying we didn’t fight two worlds wars to be ruled by Brussels. Which is fine because we’re not ruled by Brussels. If we were, we wouldn’t have this choice.

(And if you’re my generation or younger you didn’t fight those wars and won’t have to, because of the EU)

One of my grandfathers tried to join up (and was sent home) aged 14 for the first of those wars, and the other joined up in his 20s for the second – My father who is in his 80s and served 37 years in the Royal Navy and has travelled the world, is voting IN.  They all encouraged me to study French and German. (There are no women in this list because they aren’t around to ask but I went with my Mum in 1976 and she told me she voted to stay in. I remember thinking it was so funny that grown ups were using those thick black pencils we used at school while learning to write).

We are part of a community and my family encouraged me to join in to be part of exactly that – a united European Community, living & working together, bound by our culture, our common history, working for peace as well as prosperity. (Of course, there are problems with the structures. All political structures the world over at the moment are creaking and failing but you can’t fix something you aren’t part of.)  Working and living in France, Germany and, yes, Turkey in my 20s has in significant measure, made me who I am. I’ve since worked in Denmark, Norway and Spain. I could not have done that without the EU and I was given so much by those countries which I pay back here in the UK.

Living in Australia taught me that I’m a European.

I am a European, proud of my red passport – however the pretty the blue ones were – the red ones are an expression of optimism, hope and co-operation which stretches out into all parts of life. They are an invitation to discover and celebrate the richness in the diversity of all that Europe and Europeans are, a pocket-sized reminder of the protections that both we, the climate and the natural world enjoy because of them. A reminder that whatever else we have got wrong, the project for peace in Europe has succeeded. We have a duty to play our part in the world, to have a voice in the big global conversations.

I used my postal vote to #VOTEREMAIN and it musn’t stop there.

I believe that the #Remain campaign has not offered a positive vision for the #EU  because we are fixated on bad news. The positive story doesn’t make headlines, doesn’t catch the eye.  Equally the EU feels remote, it’s an abstraction we can’t see and don’t engage with except when we hear about something that it’s done we might not like – we don’t hear about all the positive changes it has effected for us. We just take them for granted.

How many of us know who represents us there? It’s hard to respect or admire something you don’t understand. If you want a more positive relationship with the EU debate, turn out next time the MEP elections are called.  If you want better accountability, find out who your MEP is and write to them. Find out what they think about the issues which matter to you. Democracy is like friendship. You need to be active within it for it to thrive and blossom. Make the story your story.

And back to this week – I understand that Leavers are not all bigots, racists and far-right nationalists. They just make the best TV. (And I know that I am not facing the hardships that many people who are contemplating Leave face on a daily  basis). I understand that there are a range of principled objections to our membership and the conduct of democracy in the EU. We haven’t heard these arguments but we won’t fix them by leaving. One of the most convincing speakers I’ve heard in the Leave debate (a Labour MP) said that we have some the best and most effective MEPs – well if that’s the case, why call them home? Why lose all that expertise, networking and negotiating power? If we leave, all those conversations will continue without us, and representatives from big business will still meet behind closed doors, and we will have even less access to what is going on. “Have a place at the table or be on the menu.” (is a quote from a woman I heard at a conference in York, her name is out of my head but I’ll find it).

I used my postal vote to #VOTEREMAIN and it musn’t stop there.

Whatever your age and experience, if you really think by voting #LEAVE you will be FREE, that by regaining “sovereignty” you will be relieved of your responsibility to history, the suffering that is taking place on a daily basis due to wars and empire, and that suddenly everyone you see will look like you and agree with you….

and your government will do exactly as you want them to….

I think you might be, just might be, (if the vote goes your way) more disappointed in the coming months than the people who are voting to STAY.


It’s just what I think but I really wanted to say it.

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