On 31 January you will see news reports of fireworks and street parties held around the UK, but at least half of us would rather not be leaving at all. We voted to Remain in the 2016 Referendum because we appreciate all that EU membership has granted us. This is a letter to our dear European friends.
It is hard to overestimate the value of the four freedoms which we in the UK have enjoyed as EU citizens; so many of us have travelled, worked, loved and lived in many of the member states. We have enjoyed the extraordinary access to products and foods that were able to be imported tariff free. Our lives and culture have been enriched by the free flow of people from 27 other countries. Few of us have made it across all 27 of those borders, but millions from these countries chose to move to the UK and we have benefited and grown from the interactions, both chance and planned.
The many millions of Europhiles in the UK appreciate that our rights as citizens have been strengthened as EU members. Whether it is security, employment, welfare, human rights or simply ongoing peace, we have benefited. The European Social Fund has been the backbone of many support services to the less privileged members of our society, particularly women in low paid jobs.
On the climate crisis, where cooperation is key to achieve global emission reductions, the EU has led the way in setting goals and standards.
We feel that this removal of our EU citizenship is a crime against everything we have fought for, and we will never ‘just get over it’.
So no bell ringing, no champagne or street parties for us on 31 January. Instead of celebrations we simply light a candle of hope in our windows to show a steely determination to uphold the values we imbibed as EU citizens, and a promise to our extended family across the EU:
We shall be back!