Letters to Europe
Today I sent 38 letters. I wrote to every member of the European Council (that’s all the European political leaders), plus the president of the European Commission, political leaders in the UK, and my local MP. I said the following:
I am a citizen of Britain, one of almost half of those in the country that voted in the recent referendum to remain a member of the European Union. Sadly my side of the argument lost, and with it I fear I have lost my country, and status as a citizen of Europe. I also fear for the very future of the European Union as a result of this country’s misguided decision.
Overnight the very character of my country seems to have changed; in a campaign (which has been running for many years up to the point of the referendum) stoked by fears of immigration, and blaming of the other, it is no surprise that the outcome is to legitimise those with the most hateful views. I grew up feeling my country was one of inclusivity, internationalism, and multiculturalism. While I remain sure those are the characteristics of the vast majority still, the victory for the leave side has legitimised the racist and intolerant views of the few, and amplified their voices. I know already my friends of other nationalities and races, even those who have made their lives here for years or generations, already feel less welcome. This more than any other outcome of the referendum horrifies and upsets me.
At the more personal level, I feel my very cultural identity has been stripped away. I am a citizen of Europe as much as I am of Britain, and very soon that status will be taken from me.
And then of course there are the innumerate reasons one would wish to remain in the European Union, for equality of rights and opportunities of each citizen, and collective action and protection for the environment.
Of all this I am sure you are entirely aware. But then of course this is a situation of my nation’s own making, why should you care? Well my other fear is that this is just the beginning; there are nations across the union where political forces seek to follow the UK, and launch their own referenda to remove themselves. And more disturbingly still, there are forces of the extreme political right which would seek to capitalise on the same fears and hatred that drove the campaign here.
I fear for the very future of Europe. We have been at peace for over half a century, but could soon see a domino effect that pulls apart the European Union, and takes us from being collaborators and friends, to nothing but competitors once more.
The referendum was won on a knife edge, a tiny majority. Already there are many who have voiced their regret at voting to leave, either having done so as a protest vote against the establishment, not realising they would tip the balance, or having voted thinking they would get one outcome and already seeing the post-EU nation they have created is something else.
As I write this more than 3.5 million people have already signed a petition calling for a second referendum. However, I fear no matter how loud that protestation, it would be both anti-democratic, and would be drowned out by the leave campaign. That is unless something can change – So that is why I write to you now, to beg of you to open a dialogue with the UK, to bring about some sort of offering that would both legitimise the nation being called to a second referendum, and be tempting enough to win that referendum for the remain side. I don’t know what that reform might be, what compromise could be made to maintain the UK’s membership, perhaps even to some lesser status. But anything that would save this nation from isolation, and save the EU from potential collapse, must be better than letting us leave the European family.
Yours, a desperate but determined citizen of Britain and Europe
I hope someone out there is ready to listen, and help save Britain from our own misguided decision…