Bath for Europe supporters and guests from Swindon, East Kent and Italy braved the bitter cold to start 2018 off on a very positive note. Our first Pulse of Europe of the year was well attended by long-standing supporters and newbies alike.
Congregating next to Bath Abbey, MC Alan Champneys introduced our three speakers. Luca Bergamaschi, who lives and works in Italy on climate change and energy diplomacy, is former Advisor on international climate change in the Italian Prime Minister’s Office. He spoke passionately about the UK’s leading role in climate diplomacy and how Brexit will severely damage this. Read the full text of Luca’s speech here.
Hugh Riddle of the East Kent European Movement spoke briefly. He was spending the weekend with Bath for Europe to gather ideas to bring back to his local movement.
Claire Thomas of Bath for Europe traced the UK’s troubled path to European membership which helps to understand the ambivalence that our country often has as a nation towards Europe. “For some people it is a resentment that Europe is holding us back from greatness. And for successive governments it has been a convenient scapegoat to mask domestic problems.”
Claire said, “The concept of an EU citizen means freedom to travel, work, study, live and love in other countries, and in doing so share our culture and values. I am hoping that, like the empire itself, this nostalgia for plucky Britain alone, punching way above its weight in the world, is also dwindling. The last few flames have been fanned to burn brightly due to the referendum last year but will eventually fade. Maybe, like during those difficult years after the war, we have to learn again that our place for now is in Europe.”
“But this time, let’s ditch the ambivalence and embrace Europe fully. That means leading, not following. We are after all the second largest economy in Europe. We are not dictated to, we choose to follow rules that we have agreed to so that we all benefit from enviable institutions like the Single Market. And what brings us the world status we crave? Being an influential partner in a population of 500 million or a lone state with a population of 65 million. And let’s not forget, it is the UK at stake here, not just Britain. The EU is far from perfect, but hey since when have we ever had the opportunity to choose utopia.”
Claire’s final message: “I am looking forward to 2018 because I believe with our positive message we will achieve that change of opinion that will eventually secure our place in Europe. And even if it doesn’t, I know I will have done all I can.”
Following the speeches, the colourful group made its longest march yet through Bath, stopping four times for street theatre, ‘The Three Unwise Men’, written by Claire Thomas. The Three Unwise Men are David Davis, Boris Johnson and Dr Liam Fox, each of whom bear their own inappropriate gift one day after Epiphany.
The marchers wound up at Friends Meeting House for hot drinks and cakes and a discussion about Bath for Europe’s plans for the coming months. We have exciting events in the weeks ahead and will be stepping up our outreach efforts.