Diana Page writes:
Last Saturday’s March for Europe was described, with a reasonable degree of accuracy in The Observer, as ‘a polite but stubborn queue’. A very good humoured crowd of approximately 80,000 sauntered in the spring sunshine down Park Lane, along Piccadilly, eventually arriving upside the Houses of Parliament.
The banners were mainly home made and ranged from the poignant (‘My mum is British, my dad is Italian. Please don’t send me away’) to the gently amusing (‘I’m really quite angry’). The police who normally accompany such demonstrations were noticeable by their absence.
The march for Europe: described as “a polite but stubborn queue”.
So why should this matter to Friends? In the 70 years between 1870 and 1940, German soldiers invaded France three times, the last two of which involved the whole of Europe in devastating wars. During the last 60 years, no EU country has invaded or been in armed conflict with another EU country. The horror of World War 2, the discovery of the full extent of the holocaust and the use of nuclear weapons to end that war, produced a determination to work for peace across Europe .
The co-operation was not limited to trade. Important educational exchanges, the opportunity to study at any European university as a home student, research and development, the freedom to live and work anywhere in Europe all added to international understanding. For the last 40 years, our children have grown up knowing that they were European. They have studied and worked in other European countries; they have met their partners and had their children in those countries, without having to worry too much about whether those children were British or Swedish, French or German because they were all European; at least two of the grandmothers in Bath Meeting have grandchildren in other EU countries. The parents of those grandchildren now have to choose their nationality and that of their children.
Since the Good Friday Agreement, co-operation and power sharing have replaced the internecine fighting in Northern Ireland. The peace has been helped by the fact that republicans have not had to continue their insistence on a united Ireland because Ireland joined the EU on the same day as the UK and the border between North and South disappeared; de facto, Ireland was united as part of Europe, with free movement of citizens enabling those from both Northern Ireland and the Republic to live and work where they chose. That border will now reappear.
I have no doubt that Brexit has made both Britain and Europe more vulnerable and from the point of our testimony of truth, I am saddened by the lies that persuaded people to vote Leave. We are apparently living in a ‘post truth’ world, which may account for our constantly being that the British people voted to exit the EU when only 31% of those eligible to vote actually voted Leave.
Referenda are meant to be advisory and, on the basis of a tiny margin, the politicians have chosen a dangerous path that will affect future generations. I intend to stay in the polite but stubborn queue and refuse to believe that we have to accept the inevitability of that decision,.