Letter from Bassetlaw – February 7th 2016

Getting up this morning at 7 am (yes I know, far too early on a Sunday morning) I noticed that for, the first time this year, it is already getting light at that time and soon we will be back to having not only lighter mornings but, even better, lighter evenings.  Spring is nearly here again bringing with it renewal and new growth and, at least for me, a warming of the heart and renewed energy for battles to come.

Talking of battles, the next few months will see the battle to remain in the EU.  I am sure it will be a hard fought fight between those who see the future of UK taking its role as a leading member of the EU and those who want to turn the clock back to a mythical past where the UK can thrive in splendid isolation from our closest neighbours.  I call this view of our past mythical because it never really happened.

Even before William the Conqueror, England was engaged with what was happening in mainland Europe, part of the events that were happening there and making alliances first with one nation or Empire and then with another to secure & then protect its position at the heart of European events.  Many of our rulers were from other countries in Europe, Willian himself, James I (&VI of Scotland), William III (of both England & the Netherlands) & George I (also Elector of Hanover) all claimed the English & the British throne through alliances and marriages arranged by previous Kings & Queens before coming to England to claim the throne.   We in England, Scotland & Wales are part of European history if we like it or not and our history is one on European alliances.

One of the main drives in Britain’s European policy for centuries up until World War II was to make sure that the Germanic states & France (as the two main nations in Europe) were never able to build an alliance against our country.   If we leave the EU, then we will leave them free to frame EU policy without regard to us, to benefit them & not us.  This will weaken the UK not strengthen it, which is why the Leave Campaign, for all it’s bluster, is at its heart deeply unpatriotic.


Another reason why leaving the EU would be against British interest is simply the mechanism of leaving.  I read a very interesting article this week from Alan Renwick (an academic in The Constitution Unit in the Department of Political Science at University College London) called What happens if we vote for Brexit?

By examining the relevant article in the Lisbon Treaty (Article 50), he shows that the process is not simple and would work against UK interests.  Whether or not you like the EU as it is presently working (and I for one want deep reforms), before deciding to leave, you must be sure that leaving is a way to a better future otherwise we will be jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

Whatever your views on the EU, you should read the article and consider what is involved if we vote to leave.


Finally, we are seeing yet another increase in refugees from the fighting in Syria trying to cross into Turkey.  We already have one set of refugees in the Region who were left to rot in refugee camps for years, destabilising both Jordan & Lebanon almost fatally, it would be a tragedy to inflict this fate on to another people. Yes, we need to resolve the civil war in Syria but these people need our help now.  It would be a tragic mistake that would have long term consequences for us, just as the plight of the Palestinian refugees has, if we left the Syrian refugees to live without work, without hope without a future in camps in Turkey, Lebanon & Jordan.  We need to act to make sure this does not happen.