Voting to Remain

Originally appeared here for Labour Remain:

No one could have ignored the clamouring voices of recent years, calling for what we’ve now termed Brexit, a clunky portmanteau heralding the end of our membership of the European Union. I’m still appalled we’re discussing the damned thing, but here we are.

As an internationalist, federalist and let’s be frank an unabashed Europhile, the idea of ever closer union sits well with me. I do appreciate to many it’s untenable, tantamount to occupation, serfdom, loss of identity and all manner of impositions. David Cameron succeeded in his referendum gamble, to strike a deal that just might temper those feelings and keep us in.

No relationship is worth staying in if parties do not benefit, and the EU does require constant assessment and reform to keep it working. As the deal was announced, no doubt our European cousins were rolling their eyes at our special status (like France within NATO?) and savvy Brits abroad haggling for a discount on their morning croissant and espresso. But Britain has done it – we have a special place within Europe. We already have an enviable position using the pound and being within the EU.

We can live and work (or just visit) anywhere in 28 countries. We are part of the world’s largest trading bloc – an oft quoted voice of dissent is “we thought we were voting for trade”. Well we are, we have been, and why on earth would anyone want to throw that away? We are small, yet have access to an incredible pool of talent.

Much of the argument to leave is based on emotion, and you cannot fight emotion with logic. I understand many will vote for what they feel is “right”, and for some that will be to leave, for reasons of misguided patriotism. Britain throughout its turbulent history has always had a hodge-podge of identities – being part of the fabric of the Europe is another extension of this. Whether or not you buy into European identity, it is there for the taking, and you’re not any less British for doing so.

In 2014’s great question of sovereignty, the Scottish referendum, the Yes camp wielded and understood the power of misplaced patriotism but was seeking to remain within the EU. To remove the UK from the greatest alliance in history is all manner of folly. Scotland again is saying Brexit will trigger a second referendum. England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, alone and cold in the North Atlantic, will flounder. It is acceptable as a patriot to know when you need to rely on others for strength. There is nothing brave, noble, or patriotic about taking a leap in the dark, a gamble, on the hope that somehow Britain will prosper alone.

Voting to remain is to keep our rightful place at the European table.

Voting to remain is the British thing to do. It’s the “insert identity here” thing to do.

Remain is for everyone.

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