Project Enthusiasm: the ultra-positive case for Britain to Remain in Europe
An unusually positive and enthusiastic case for Remain (Britain remaining in the European Union) is made in a new article by two writers who have both had extensive but different experiences of working with EU colleagues in an EU context to advance British and European values, interests and influence in the world. One is a former senior British government official with experience in the Treasury, the Prime Minister’s office in No. 10 Downing Street and the Department for International Development. The other, now retired, was a British diplomat who served as ambassador or high commissioner in five countries in Africa, Europe and Australasia over a period of a dozen years. Both testify to the central importance of the UK’s membership of the EU for the effectiveness of their work, not just in amplifying and leveraging British influence in the world (a significant and valuable objective but an intangible one, even when grandly re-named ‘soft power’), but also in helping to shape international and indeed domestic policies that support and advance British political, commercial and economic interests. The article doesn’t echo Blimpish calls for Britain to “lead” in Europe, but more realistically recognises the enormous benefits from a UK role of collaboration and consultation among European equals, stressing that the challenges facing Europe and the rest of the world — climate change, inequality and poverty, economic stagnation, terrorism, refugees and economic migrants — need to be tackled on a continental or global scale, not by separate little nation states acting impotently on their own. The writers stress that membership of the European Union is a right and a privilege, not a burden to be reluctantly borne, and that we should be as proud to be European citizens as we are proud to be British — and simultaneously proud to be Londoners or Glaswegians, Afro-Caribbeans or Asians, Muslims or atheists, primary school teachers or members of the House of Commons.
You may have come across the writers of this paean to Europe in other capacities. One is Owen Barder, Europe Director of the Center for Global Development and visiting professor in practice at the London School of Economics, an economist specialising in global development issues. His co-author is his father – me. You can read our joint appeal for a vote for Remain on Thursday at http://bit.ly/28OLdou. If you agree with it, please tweet or post on Facebook your support, with a link to the article; and please pass it on to as many as possible of your friends, colleagues and relatives, with priority for those who may be considering a vote for Leave: only do try to make sure that they read it before they go out to vote in the referendum in a few hours’ time. And if they are firm supporters of Remain, do urge them to read our article and then to be sure not to Remain at home on Thursday. Please vote Remain!
PS to those who receive this in an email: please write your comments on the two Barders’ joint article, preferably before Thursday (23 June), at the bottom of this post at https://barder.com/4696, not in reply to the email.