Bath for Europe supporters share why they are campaigning for the UK to remain at the heart of the European Union.
I don’t know if we can stop this thing, but I want to be on the right side of history. I sometimes wonder how I would have behaved in key historical situations. Would I have turned a blind eye in Nazi Germany or would I have been brave enough to take a stand? Would I have been a suffragette tying myself to railings? I know the situation isn’t exactly analogous, but I don’t want to be the one telling my (potential) grandchildren that we all knew Brexit was a massive mistake but we sat back and accepted it.
When I voted in the Referendum I felt very emotional. Something deeper seemed to be at stake than in an ordinary election. After the result I felt dazed and physically sick for days. Retaining Britain as an open, outward-looking and tolerant country, able and willing to engage democratically with Europe and the rest of the world on the pressing issues of our time seemed – and still seems – vital. Being in the EU seemed to counter the British/English (and English-speaking?) exceptionalism that has been growing to dangerous levels. If we get some kind of soft Brexit/associate EU membership all will not be lost. But I fear leaving the EU is just one step of a nasty far-right nationalist agenda pursued by certain newspapers and part of the Conservative party. Now it seems that The Express/Mail and Rees-Mogg et al are attacking our foreign aid.
For me, it’s heart-breaking to see my country being wrecked by a hijacking of democracy, a manipulation of the rule of law, a government with no emotional intelligence, a Parliament too cowed to stand up to bullies, Brexit ideologues cynically riding a wave of discontentment from years of austerity and all this born out of ignorance or whipped up hatred of the EU. And saddest of all? A shameful disregard for the young people of this country who do not want Brexit. I simply cannot sit on the side lines and do nothing.
My great motivator is the ability to live and work in 27 other countries. I was born and educated in Belgium and lived there until I was 18. I’ve also worked in Paris and been a British migrant in the EU for over 20 years. It breaks my heart that my nephew, born the month after the Referendum, won’t have the same opportunities that my sister and I had at his age. It’s such a step backwards and limits opportunities for everyone (especially younger people who want to compete in an international job market).
I was heartbroken by the Referendum result having always considered myself European. I don’t know if the Brexit trajectory can be altered but I’m in this for the long haul and, as there is no effective opposition in Parliament, will do whatever I can democratically to overthrow this disastrous government. Killing Brexit is an end in itself but also a means to an end.
My motivator is that I was so angry that the bigots and the isolationists had taken over my country. I was embarrassed that my values of international co-operation and collectivism had been overtaken with chauvinism, xenophobia and hate. I also did not believe that the country I love would be overtaken by the false narrative that all our woes are due to “foreigners” or “immigrants”. I have found that since I have been involved it has been cathartic. I did not feel I could sit on my hands while many of the freedoms and opportunities I have enjoyed in my lifetime would be taken away for my children.
My main motivator is still fury. Brexit has sent a message to racists and xenophobes that demonising foreigners is ok; many believe now that the state has sanctioned their hate crimes. The Referendum was focused so heavily on immigration, the outcome has sent a message to people from a different heritage – whether from the EU or beyond, even those born here – that they are not welcome in the UK. That our contribution is not valued or welcome, or even tolerated. Add to this the economic, environmental and other harmfulness of this decision, and it seems like a madness has come over this country, a sudden desire to self-harm, for no valid reason. Along with Donald Trump’s election, Brexit has made a mockery of democracy and reminds me we can’t rely on common sense to prevail; we have to make sure it does.
Born in the US, I’ve spent more than half my life studying, working and living in three European countries. The EU has been a force for good, for peace, prosperity, citizens’ rights and cross-cultural cooperation. I cried after the Referendum and have been distressed every day since. I cannot sit by and watch the far-right, backed by the ultra-rich, drag my adopted homeland out of the EU with lies, scapegoating immigrants and igniting hatred. So far, all the complaints I’ve heard from Leavers can be laid squarely on our country’s government, not on the EU. The threat of Brexit has already made the UK poorer and it will be economic suicide if it comes to pass. I am determined to keep campaigning and encourage others to join our cause.