Britain is in the middle of the most important referendum campaign in decades and the outcome will have profound implications for the future of our country. Britain is a leading nation in Europe and it is essential that we do not walk away from the European Union. The viability of our economy, our society and our power in the world depends on us voting to Remain. But more than just the fate of this country, the outcome of the EU Referendum could have ramifications across our continent. There is so much at stake we cannot afford to gamble with the future of Britain or Europe.
In this campaign, two visions of Britain are being fought over. One is of a liberal progressive Britain, which embodies fairness, tolerance and internationalism. The other is a Britain of nostalgic nationalism built on fear, division and isolationism. A vote to Remain in the EU is a vote for hope over fear and for unity over division. A vote to Leave is a vote to reduce Britain's influence in the world and to turn our backs on our nearest friends and allies.
EU membership is vital to our nation's economy. The EU is one of the biggest economies in the world on a par with that of the United States. Britain is a part of an economic superpower. Our trade and our businesses need these vital links in-order to prosper. More than just being an economic union, the EU is also a social union. It protects our rights in the workplace and ensures our access to NHS services across the Continent. In addition, it helps to combat discrimination against women and minority groups. The EU embodies market aspects, liberal aspects and social democratic aspects.
There is much about the modern world that people find scary. When trying to name their fears, some people might come up with a name like immigration. The truth is that immigration is a benefit to our economy and to our NHS. Since Roman times, Britain has been a nation of immigrants and this is shown through our collective history, culture and language. The internet, modern communication, global markets, war, international transport and climate change are reducing national borders all around the world. Furthermore, any trade deal that we want with the European Single Market, post-Brexit, would have to include Freedom of Movement as it currently does for non-EU countries like Norway.
Throughout the 20th century, Britain fought to secure democracy on the Continent in the face of fascist and communist dictatorships. We shed our blood, sweat and tears through two World Wars and a Cold War in-order to ensure peace, freedom and democracy in Europe. We have a moral obligation to lead in the EU. Previous generations did not go through such hardship just to see their achievements begin to unravel. The vision of a united, peaceful continent must endure. I will take rules on ‘bendy bananas’ any day over the Luftwaffe bombing London night after night. We must not turn our backs on Europe; it is our destiny to shape Europe from within.
In many European countries we are seeing the rise of the nationalist right. These parties seek to divide Europe and often advance racist and xenophobic agendas in-order to do so. The nationalist right want to destroy the European Union and we cannot let them succeed. Forces not too far removed from those of the 1930s are on the march once again in countries such as France, the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary and Greece. We must not provide the oxygen that allows this evil to rise to the fore. We cannot abandon our allies in their hour of maximum need and perhaps maximum danger.
In a global world, 28 countries working together can achieve so much more than one country ever could by itself. The nations of the EU are able to collectively bargain against the negative aspects of globalisation, such as climate change, inequality and financial instability. Together we can tackle these problems, because when an issue affects the entire world it requires continents to act. Pooling our sovereignty with the other EU nations allows us to expand and enhance our influence in the world.
I am and always will be a proud European. Proud of a continent that is today free and democratic after centuries of tyranny. We cannot abandon our fellow Europeans or put at risk the economic and social benefits that EU membership brings. Above all else, we must ask ourselves, what kind of country do we want Britain to be? A country that embodies tolerance and fairness, while playing an active role in the wider world; or a country that is divided and fearful and that turns its back on its nearest neighbours. The EU is essential for jobs, trade, workers’ rights and environmentalism. The EU is the vehicle that Britain needs to have global influence in the 21st century. For the sake of our country and our continent, we must not walk away from it. Vote Remain on June 23rd.