HOPE, not FEAR
Did you know that Theresa May, when introducing her, so-called, “hostile environment” Immigration Bill on 22 Oct 13, said “WE CAN DEPORT FIRST AND HEAR APPEALS AFTERWARDS” (Source: Hansard at https://bit.ly/2KxGAii). I stress her words in capitals, as I personally find them repulsive and deeply embarrassing. Whipped-up by lies about immigration over decades by the Mail, Sun, Express, Telegraph, Farage, UKIP and Conservative ultra-Brexiteers, our country has somehow been turned into a nasty, anti-migrant, anti-asylum country. “Not in my name”, I say.
In contrast, and thanks largely to David Lammy, we now know how Therese May’s ‘deport-first-appeal-later’ policy has so callously affected not just the Windrush Generation but also untold other immigrants to our country. This is truly a national scandal.
Aged 69 in 2016, and prior to immigration being whipped-up as an issue by the right-wing press and politicians, I was proud of my country. Now, aged 71, and following the EU Referendum, I’m embarrassed to be called British. The only way to change this situation is to give voters a choice between leaving the EU on the terms negotiated by the current Conservative government by October this year, or remaining in the EU on the beneficial terms we currently enjoy and then working with our next-door neighbours, the EU27, to improve the future of everyone living in Europe (and, in so far as we can, in the rest of the world).
What’s missing, though, is a sense of credible HOPE for the future. We currently have a surfeit of FEAR – on the Leave side, being swamped by immigrants, having to join an EU army, not being able to make our own laws, etc (all completely untrue); and, on Remain side, catastrophic consequences for our economy, the unity of the UK and the lives of everyone in the UK, especially, the poorest, most deprived, most vulnerable members of our society, etc (all true, but unpalatable facts for voters). What we don’t have, though, at the moment, is a credible picture of a new and brighter future consequent on remaining in the EU.
Personally, I’ve just conducted a personal ‘thought-experiment’ to explore how things would look if the UK chooses to remain in the EU (the results of which I’m happy to share)– and, I have to say, the emerging picture looks hugely encouraging.
Would anyone like to work with me on developing this hopeful perspective?
Here is my first draft:
- An immediate, massive increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FID), as investors around the world see that the UK is committed to remaining in the EU Single Market and Customs Union, and, hence, becomes, yet again, the ideal springboard for serving the world’s largest market.
- An immediate, total cessation of forward-planning by UK-based firms to re-locate some or all of their operations to somewhere else in the EU27 as a response to Brexit.
- Getting back to being the fastest growing G7 economy (which the UK was prior to the EU Referendum in 2016, whereas we’re now the slowest growing G7 economy, and have since slipped from being the world’s 5th to 6th largest economy).
- Retaining all the 88 international trade agreements from which the UK already benefits by virtue of being an EU member (also with 19 extra trade agreements in negotiation and 5 currently being updated). If you don’t believe me – as most Leavers probably won’t – please check the facts at http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/negotiations-and-agreements/.
- A huge increase in confidence across the UK, stimulating sundry benefits, such as:
- Reuniting our currently divided country; and
- Giving our country a renewed sense of purpose.
- Instantly eliminating the risks of:
- The UK’s current four nations breaking apart; and
- A hard border in Ireland, hence compromising the Good Friday Agreement and peace process in Ireland.
- Securing the future of EU citizens in the UK, making them feel welcome again and securing their continued contribution to society in the UK – encompassing everything from picking seasonal crops, though staffing our NHS and social care services, to keeping the UK at the forefront of science globally.
- Significant benefits for UK citizens, including the continuation of no roaming charges, no visas, clean beaches and everything else the UK has benefitted from through EU membership since 1973. In this context, it’s important to note that even David Davis has now confirmed we won’t be having a post-Brexit, Andrea-Leadsom-Michael-Gove style “bonfire of regulations”, as, actually, David Davis is extremely proud of the regulations we’re helped developed while within the EU – and so indeed he should be.
- Preservation of all the hugely helpful, collaborative activities in which we currently engage, including the European Medicines Agency, Euratom, Horizon, Europol, the European Arrest Warrant, etc.
- The ability to tackle shared issues beyond domestic control, such as Climate Change, tax avoidance by global firms, etc.
- The impetus to start working actively with fellow EU nations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of how the EU works.
- The impetus to start working actively internally to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our political system in Westminster, which the Brexit vote in 2016 and subsequent government ineptitude has proven to be completely “unfit for purpose”.
I could go on, but would much prefer to hear from others with their comments and builds.
Author: Alan Meekings
Alan Meekings is a management consultant specialising in the field of Organisational Performance Management. He has led programmes of major change and sustainable improvement with public, private and third sector organisations for over thirty years. He is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield University School of Management, a Visiting Scholar at Heriot-Watt University School of Management and a member of the European Movement nationally and in Lincolnshire.
All views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Conservative Group for Europe or the European Movement.