Peace and freedom
Sovereignty matters to Leavers. So we have to make the case why it is worth pooling sovereignty. Central to that argument is peace. That’s what the EU was founded to promote. We must find stories that we can tell that bring that message home to people who see the EU as a glorified trade agreement and who may have a positive view of war. London4Europe Committee member Michael Romberg writes.
We would like to produce more stories about why people wish the UK to stay in the EU. What is your story? Please let us know on London@euromove.org.uk
When l was a young man in London in my 20s, 30s, life did not always work out. My career was going nowhere. My girlfriend was going somewhere – away from me. And l sometimes asked myself: what was going on in my parents’ lives when they were my age.
For many years the answer to that was World War ll: the run-up, the war itself, the aftermath. Killing, expulsions, fear, worry, hunger.
Well, that put my problems into perspective.
The EU helps to heal the divisions of Europe
I was born in the British Military Hospital in Berlin where my father was posted for a long time with the British Military Government. I grew up there in the school holidays. I saw what walls and hard borders do.
Since 1989 and the opening of Europe I have travelled for holidays both in EU Eastern and Central Europe and in Ukraine. I have seen how much EU membership has helped countries like Poland and Hungary. And how much further non-member Ukraine has to go.
Implications for Campaigning
I have no interest in a better Brexit, campaigning to stay in the Single Market or a customs union. Of course l care about the economy – l am a former HM Treasury civil servant. But it’s not the point of the EU. Economic union is a means to an end: peace.
I wish to stay in the great European peace project, the great European freedom and democracy project, the project that brings the people of Europe closer together while recognising the diversity of this great continent, the project that gives us as individuals freedoms and rights across the whole continent.
The EU is a pillar of peace and freedom in Europe. On the Continent that is how it is seen. But World War II is still the defining event in modern European national consciousness and the UK’s experience of the war was different from every other country’s.
Still, in the UK we should get a sense of what the EU can achieve through the effect of common EU membership with Ireland on support for the Peace Process. But few in Britain see that as relevant.
Peace cannot be taken for granted, not even in Europe (Yugoslavia, Georgia, Ukraine). We must defend our membership of the European Peace Project. We must Remain.
Peace is a message of optimism and hope which would be more uplifting than Project Fear. For our campaigning we have to find ways of making that message resonate with Leavers.
Articles on this page reflect the views of the author and not necessarily of London4Europe.