No, thank you

In the weeks and months to come, we’re going to be hearing a lot about why we in the UK should vote Yes to remaining part of the European Union. But we still have a choice.

Already the establishment has begun to fall into line: all but one of the UK’s mainstream political parties have made it clear they will be campaigning for a Yes vote in the referendum, due to be held sometime before the end of 2017. The CBI, as well as a host of other names from big business, have wasted no time in running the yellow-and-blue up the flagpole. As well as the usual suspects in the media, even Rupert Murdoch has started to hum the Ode To Joy. It feels as if, at this point, a Yes vote is inescapable.

And yet, and yet.

The case for Britain leaving the EU (aka ‘Brexit’) is one which deserves serious, thoughtful consideration. We cannot let this referendum be divided into the right ons and the far rights. The issue of Britain’s membership of the EU must not be boiled down into simplistic pro- vs. anti-immigration or Little Englander vs. Progressive stereotypes. The referendum ought to be an opportunity for engaging in a fundamental debate about Britain’s future in Europe and the wider world, a debate about trade, sovereignty, democracy and future prosperity.

Let’s not allow the No campaign to descend into xenophobia and grievance mongering. Don’t let the establishment and big business make the decision for us. Let’s have an open discussion about what EU membership really means — not just in the here and now but also in the future. And let’s be confident in stating, calmly but firmly: No, thank you.

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