The leader of the Liberal Democrats on why the UK should take its place at the centre of the European Unionby Tim Farron / June 22, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: David Owen—leaving the EU would make us safer
We have come to the last hours of a campaign which at times felt as though it would never end. Though some people have already voted by post, the majority of us will head to the polls on Thursday, yet polls indicate there is still a large chunk of voters who continue to be undecided.
I don’t blame them, to be honest. If, at the beginning of this campaign, you were hoping to be informed by reasoned debate from those wishing to remain in Europe and those wishing to leave, you will have been sorely disappointed. Those of us trying to inform voters, to discuss the issues and to rationally argue for a particular side have been drowned out by personal attacks, political party infighting, and increasingly racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric. All of which apparently make for more exciting headlines than the facts about our membership of the EU.
But the facts do matter. Jobs matter, trade matters, the environment matters, social cohesion matters. All of these will be altered fundamentally for the worse if Britain votes to leave on Friday.
That’s not to say if we vote “Remain” we can all put our feet up and stop working hard to create more jobs, to make trade more liberal, to tackle climate change, or to promote equality. But there is no doubt in my mind that we have a far better chance at meeting these 21st century challenges if we remain a member of the European Union.
An important point which has been barely touched on in the last few months is that it is the generations that follow who will be most affected by our decisions now. Our kids will be growing up in the society which we build. I want my children to grow up in a society that shares security, shares political values and shares social standards with our European neighbours—we should not risk a return to the mutual hostility of a century ago.
Liberal Democrats fought harder than anyone to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote in this referendum. The government blocked us and let those young people down. But this vote is still more about them than it is about people of my age and above.
The thing that frustrated me the most is that we are one of the EU’s largest and richest countries. Why are we not leading from the front in Europe? For decades we haven’t been in the driving seat. We haven’t even been in the passenger seat or the back seat. We have been rattling around in the boot with the spare tyre.
If we do vote “Remain” on Thursday, the Liberal Democrats will be calling for us to change that status quo. For the government to start actually governing again, for the Prime Minister to focus on the country instead of his own party for the first time in too long. Our job will be to prove to those who don’t vote to leave just how important the EU is to the UK, and just how much we can achieve when we’re not on the side-line, looking inward. That will mean finally taking our place at the centre of the organisation, reforming from within and leading in the world.
We share Europe’s history, so let’s share Europe’s future and vote to remain.
Now read: Stephen Kinnock—Brexit would be a betrayal of British principles