Remain to let young people shape their global future

I am very concerned about the way the EU referendum vote appears to be heading.

Enough has been said about the clear economic risk that we face if we leave the EU, indeed Leave have pretty much conceded this which is why they are urging people to ignore informed advice from the qualified and experienced on the basis that ‘they’ve been wrong in the past’ and thus everything they say subsequently is wrong – an argument often used by those promoting creationism to dismiss science. Scandalously, Michael Gove is the chief dismisser of ‘experts’ despite very recently being responsible for encouraging the gaining of expertise through our education system.  

As someone who works for a Japanese company, I am reminded daily of the global nature of business as we are set up to reflect this and provide solutions and services across borders. Our President is on public record as stating that our substantial presence in the UK is due to our access and influence within the Single Market. So the potential economic ramifications of Brexit may affect me directly but that is not why I believe passionately that we need to stay in.

Put simply, I don’t want to be part of a country that is in active denial of the increasing globalised nature of life and instead of embracing the opportunities that this provides, particularly for younger and future generations, puts the shutters up. Critically, by opting for isolation, I believe we are forgetting the role that co-operation with our European neighbours has played in keeping and promoting peace following World War II.   

We may take this for granted now but conflict develops when you see fellow human beings as different. To be avoided. Inferior. To blame. I consider ‘looking after our own’ as encompassing everyone on this planet, not those I happen to share an island with. It is not a coincidence that the likes of Britain First and the EDL are promoting Leave. They should not be encouraged.  

My family contains people born in the USA, Germany, South Africa and Italy. The friends I made on my International Relations degree course hailed from almost every continent. Their perspectives broadened my knowledge and my horizons. It seems extraordinary that, as we celebrated the removal of the Berlin Wall then, we are now contemplating erecting barriers between us and our nearest neighbours.

This week I had the huge privilege of interviewing candidates for Head Boy and Girl at the school I am proud to be a governor of. Enthusiastic, intelligent and full of ideas, they don’t have a vote in this referendum and yet their older fellow citizens, many of whom have not had to consider things like workers rights or maternity pay for some time, are proposing to put visas and other restrictions on their ability to travel and work on their own continent. Who are we to limit their futures and deprive them of the opportunities we have had to develop a better world for all?

I agree fully with one campaigner in the 1975 referendum who stated that “the parochial politics of ‘minding your own business’” closed the opportunities afforded by co-operation and encouraged division. Her name? Margaret Thatcher.

Please vote Remain on June 23rd.

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