Why Britain Should Be Looking to Lead Europe, not Leave

06 April 2016

In this referendum both sides have drawn their battle lines. The IN vote is taking the progressive stance, arguing that the EU will bring greater interconnectedness and prosperity; that we can be part of a greater partnership of nations in a modern, globalised world. While I commend and agree with this, we are allowing the Leave campaign to claim the nationalistic high ground, and have allowed them to wave the Union Flag and pretend that a vote to leave the EU is the only patriotic choice. This is a chimera. Believers in the greatness of Great Britain should vote to take a leading place in Europe as we have always done and not shrink back into a corner of the Atlantic.

Leave campaigners will be quick to point out that it was us that stood alone against Nazi imperialism in WWII. They fail to mention that we stood against fascism with allies in Europe and that Polish refugees fought in the Battle of Britain. We worked with the French resistance and the government of Free France to defeat the Wehrmacht. Then, after the war, the people of Europe, who saw their children die because of a divided continent, realised that it is only through working together that we can achieve peace. This is the root of the EU, that working collectively makes us all better and that division leads to suffering.

They also fail to remember the Napoleonic war, where the Duke of Wellington was the spearhead of a coalition of sovereign European countries which defeated Napoleon and brought peace to Europe. We pooled our resources and, in a sense, our sovereignty to overcome a problem too big for any one nation to tackle. Surely the same logic applies to the migrant crisis, or international terrorism. Throughout history Britain is at its best when it is leading Europe, and for all their flag waving, this is a lesson from history that the Leave campaign have not learned.

The other argument bandied about by the Leave campaign is that by leaving the EU we can trade with the world again, that we can be a great trading power. They somehow think that the best way to do this is by leaving the largest free market area in the world. The fact is that leaving the EU is anti-trade, anti-business, and anti-British. Trade with the EU provides three million jobs for the UK. Putting those jobs at huge risk makes us weaker as a nation and the idea that it makes us stronger is irresponsible fabrication.

EU funding makes our universities among the best in the world. In 2013 alone we got £1billion in funding for universities. Professor Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor of Liverpool University has said "EU membership helps our universities...enhancing the student experience, enhancing research, contributing to the economy and generating jobs." By cooperating with Europe, Britain maintains a world-class standard of higher education.

So when you come to vote in this referendum, don't buy into the myth that the Leave campaign is standing up for Britain. They talk down Britain, they don't believe we are strong enough to take a leading role in Europe. I say a vote to stay in is a vote of confidence in our country and the great people that live in it. It is a vote to say that Europe can have a better future and at the head of that future will be a Union Jack. We should lead, not leave.

Do you think the North East needs its own voice in the EU exit negotiations?

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