It is not without irony that I have been getting increasingly cross about the #Brexit campaign. After all, years after the EU was formed, the next logical capitalist step was the formation of the EEC. Damned EEC, it rang the death knoll of the majority of New Zealand’s trade with the UK and marked the start of decades of economic hardship for my home country. That hurt, But over time, we had to concede it was logical. We live on the top of the planet, you’re all the way down the other side right next to Europe, so it does actually make sense you should trade with them…
And now there is a referendum. What a dirty word that has become. I know that this country is feeling the pressure of a big population. It’s tough. Access to housing, the NHS, roads, social services, all stretched to breaking point because of a lack in government investment over decades, and more recently, the appalling, unjust banking crises. Laying the blame for all of this at the feet of the hard working migrants from Europe is complete crap. This economy has had huge benefits from the migrant workforce and the money that flows in either direction as businesses have become intertwined with each other across borders over the past decades. It needs better management and long term planning by parliament, and quite possibly a massive magic wand to make right. But the other side of the coin is, of course, that if you get sick of being here, you can always go and work and holiday where you want across beautiful Europe. That’s actually quite amazing! All we have is Australia.
Throughout the campaign, I have also been thinking a lot about why the EU was formed to start with - in response to the tragic carnage of two world wars that left fifty million people dead in Europe in the first half of the 20th century. After it was formed, the second half of the century saw fifty thousand people killed in comparison. And now the game has changed again - war by insidious terrorists whose recruitment relies on people being broken, disillusioned and often homeless. The world needs the EU to be strong, to shoulder the burden of refugees fleeing war outside its borders, to be a strong influence for change. If it breaks up, the result will be brutal.
The EU is far from perfect, and it is under what feels like sometimes insurmountable pressures, but it is yours. So far, it is the most successful peace project in history. Please let’s keep it that way.
Linda writes contemporary fiction for both adults and children.