I am a product of the European Union. Without freedom of movement, I might not have ever been born. My parents met in Paris when they were both working there. Had my father not been exercising his right to work and live freely in another EU member state, he would never have met my mother!
My French mother, who comes from the Alsace region in eastern France, grew up with grandparents whose personal experiences of World War II affected their entire lives. Some of her grandparents changed nationalities twice during the 20th century – from French to German and back to French again, and even fought for both the French and German armies – as the region changed hands due to the war.
My great-grandmother even spoke fluent German, having lived for a time in Berlin, but was so scarred by the war that she never spoke a word of German for the rest of her life. For the people of Alsace, a region greatly touched by the wars, the conflicts of the 20th century are prominent in the collective memory, and this gives people like my mother a strong appreciation of just how much the EU has achieved since its inception – peace.
On the other hand, my father, whose family roots are in Ireland, can understand just how significant the EU’s role has been in Ireland’s economic growth and prosperity. He can remember just how poor and undeveloped Ireland was when visiting family there in the 70s. But look at Ireland now! It has undeniably flourished as an EU member state. Today Dublin, an English-speaking European city, is becoming the destination of many companies choosing to leave London as a direct result of the Brexit vote.
As for me, I’ve grown up exposed to both French and English languages and cultures, and I realise how lucky I am to have experienced this type of upbringing.
For me, the EU isn’t only a peace project – it’s also a coming together of nations to share ideas, resources and people. It’s an international collaboration project and a force for good.
Like any institution, it’s not perfect, and there is much room for improvement – but surely we should be leading reforms from within the EU. After all, we have no say once we are out of it. With the enormous challenges we face today, including climate change and the rise of the far-right around the world, I strongly believe it is better to work together with Europe, as nations which share common values and interests. Together, our impact in tackling these issues can be far greater than if we are alone, and we have a better chance of succeeding.
Why I am fighting Brexit
The campaign to leave the EU back in 2016 disgusted me. It lied to the British people over and over again, making empty promises and feeding off people’s fears over immigration. Power-hungry politicians took advantage of the situation to forward their own political careers.
They gambled with the well-being and prosperity of the UK – something which I find utterly unacceptable. Not only this, but 2016 was an advisory referendum, yet successive governments have acted as though it were legally binding and have consistently side-lined the 48% of the population who voted to stay in the EU. This is not ‘bringing the country together.’
I find it wrong that Commonwealth citizens in the UK were given the right to vote in the 2016 referendum, but that the 3 million or so EU citizens who have made their lives here in Britain were not given a say in a matter that would significantly affect their futures in this country. Modern Britain should be championing all forms of multiculturalism and diversity, not harbouring a hostile environment towards immigrants and foreigners, most of whom are seeking to build better lives for themselves and contribute significantly to our economy in doing so.
The European Union has contributed to the prosperity and growth of the UK, with the City becoming one of the largest financial centres in the world. Poorer regions of the UK, such as Wales and Cornwall, have also benefitted immensely from EU funding. I definitely don’t trust a London-based Tory government to ensure this funding continues after Brexit. The same goes for the NHS – do we really trust such an incompetent and right-wing government to pump money into the public health services? I know I certainly don’t.
Young people and the fight against Brexit
Throughout my final year at university, I’ve been struck by the apathy of so many of my fellow students towards the current political situation. I think many young people feel powerless to change the direction of the country, but also disenfranchised and sick of hearing only about Brexit in the news for the past 3 years.
We need to spread the message that things won’t change if people stand by and let this happen. We need to help build up the grassroots movement for a People’s Vote and bolster it with even more young voices. After all, it’s our future that is at stake.