I am a European. I am British. I am English. I am a Northerner. I am a Scouser. I am a Londoner. And I am a European. I see no contradiction in owning these multiple identities. Moving to London hasn’t eroded my pride in where I’m from, and I will always, always, always have a bath not a barth, but I’m happy to have the chance to live in the greatest city in the world, raise my children here and call it home. Similarly, I am no less British because we’re part of the European Union.
I am voting in because membership of the EU provides us with a potent and irreplaceable mix of security and freedom. EU law protects our employment, our maternity benefits and our human rights to name but a few, whilst EU membership enables us and our children to travel, or to live, or to study, or to work in Europe at will.
I am voting in because I have read the history books. For centuries the great European powers were almost continually at war. My grandparents’ generation made enormous, unthinkable sacrifices to ensure a peaceful Europe, and when they had done so Winston Churchill laid the foundation stones of the modern-day European Union to secure that peace for future generations. And it has worked. The main European powers have been at peace for seventy years. That has never happened before, and it is hardly coincidence that it has happened now. Looking at some of the terrible situations round the world it would be beyond hubristic to say that we are protected from war closer to home by good luck or inherent moral superiority. We are protected because we chose to work together rather than to fight each other. If Britain left the EU, that could be the beginning of the end of decades of unparalleled peace and prosperity.
I am voting in because I have worked in the NHS and been treated by the NHS, and I know that without European doctors, nurses and midwives the NHS could not function.
I am voting in because I have good friends and neighbours who are Spanish, Belgian, Polish and Italian (to name but a few) and I see them working hard, paying taxes, contributing to our community and I know that this microcosm close to me is replicated across the UK.
I am voting in because I want the best possible future for my children, and that includes living in a country which attracts vast amounts of investment in business, research, science, technology, medicine, education and the arts explicitly because of its membership of the EU.
I am voting in because, when push comes to shove, I will always want to be on the same side of the argument as Barack Obama, Stephen Hawking and Carol Ann Duffy rather than Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and Vladimir Putin.
I am voting in because, instinctively, atavistically, I know in my heart that human beings are always stronger when we work together. That no progress has ever been made from looking inwards instead of outwards. Because, in the words of Jo Cox MP – tragically murdered because she stood up for tolerance and inclusion against fear and hate –
we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us