At 10pm on Thursday 23 June, polling stations across the country will close. Boxes stuffed full of scraps of paper will be taken to halls to be counted and, unlike a General Election, the result will have irreversible and lasting ramifications.
It’s a big responsibility.
So it’s a decision for the head, right?
I’ll admit, when the referendum was called I intuitively felt remain was the right choice. But I wanted facts. What frustrated me was both sides claimed to be the expert on every topic – the economy, immigration, education, the environment, housing and so on. Facts, ones you can be really confident in, were, and remain, hard to find.
But almost all world leaders, scientists and most economists seem to back remain. In the Sunday Telegraph yesterday, which actually backs leave, they listed the main supporters for both sides. On the leave side they included Ian Botham and Sol Campbell. While Beefy is an excellent cricket pundit, 14 centuries and 383 Test wickets does not make him an expert on what’s best for a nation.
So it’s got to be heart then
I want Great Britain to be a country the rest of the world looks towards. We’re a small island with a big history, a nation of just 65 million people that has grown to have a large say on the way of life of the 7.4 billion people living around the world.
We’re lucky that we remain in a position to show the world what democracy can achieve and that we make the right decisions when push comes to shove. As a nation we feel deeply, and we give what we can. The outpouring of vigils, words and even financial support for Jo Cox’s fund in the days after her murder is just one example.
Times are tough right now, I know years of austerity makes it more difficult to look beyond our own homes and family’s needs, but we shouldn’t neglect our moral duty to stand up for those that cannot stand up for themselves around Europe and the world. Immigration is an issue, so let’s have a grown up debate, but by leaving the EU and taking the ‘Trump’ approach to our borders is not one that’s good for us or the world.
And it’s true that anti-EU feeling is not a UK-only trait. Brexit could lead to others following, a splintering of the continent that has brought decades of peace and prosperity to so many.
The UK should be a country that leads. And no-one leads from the back of the pack, let alone from the sidelines.
It’s not just a vote for you
I’ve got two kids, aged one and four. If we leave, what will they ask when they look back at the referendum in their history lessons in ten years or so?
They may ask why we isolated ourselves when the world was moving towards greater collaboration. They may ask why, after the ‘empire’ had collapsed, we thought a return to greatness was through severing ties with our closest neighbours. They may want to know how we couldn’t see it as the first step towards the end of the United Kingdom itself.
There’s a reason nearly all major companies have collaboration as a ‘value’. Why, when the world is becoming a more competitive market place, would UK PLC want to purposefully put itself into a silo?
The EU obviously has faults, like all major governance structures. But what the EU does is create an opportunity to make a difference on the big issues of our time. Issues that don’t follow borders or respect a national flag.
Tackling terrorism and crime, alleviating poverty, making major companies pay fair taxes, peace keeping and environmental threats – they all need more collaboration, not less.
Ticking the box
I’m sure all these arguments could be reversed, but I know I’ll vote to remain on Thursday. I’ll vote for a future within the EU because I believe the UK is stronger by keeping our seat at the top European table, that it’s the right thing to do to use our influence to do more for our people at home and around the world.
I’ll do it because I think it’s the right choice for my children and, one day, my grandchildren.
But, honestly, I fear that we’ll decide to leave this week, or, maybe worse, we’ll vote remain by such a narrow margin that all the hatred and divisions created by this campaign will never get the chance to heal.