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Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP: Dear British friends, we want you IN

March 4, 2016 12:17 PM
By Sophie in't Veld in Liberal Democrat Voice
Originally published by Rutland and South Lincolnshire Liberal Democrats

European flagsAs a big fan of "Yes, Prime Minister", I find Sir Humphrey an endless source of funny quotes. But little did Humphrey know back in 1980, how topical his remarks would be in 2016:

Sir Humphrey: Minister, Britain has had the same foreign policy objective for at least the last five hundred years: to create a disunited Europe. In that cause we have fought with the Dutch against the Spanish, with the Germans against the French, with the French and Italians against the Germans, and with the French against the Germans and Italians. Divide and rule, you see. Why should we change now, when it's worked so well?

So nothing new there, suffice to say the UK has always taken a slightly different view of the "European ideal".

But as a Dutch liberal democrat, as a European, my message to the British people is clear: We want you IN, we need you IN.

Not because of some vague deal between a handful of government leaders, but because only with a strong, united Europe can we respond to the challenges of the 21st century. Inside or outside the EU, Britain will be confronted with cross-border challenges like refugees, terrorism, climate change or the energy crisis. Britain will be much better able to face those challenges as a member of the EU than alone.

As part of the EU, Britain will benefit more from the opportunities we are faced with in today's globalised and interconnected world. Only together can we make the lives of our citizens better, as a powerful player in the world economy. Britain is amongst the top beneficiaries of EU funds for research and innovation, essential for remaining competitive in the global economy. Don't throw it away.

The UK is an influential member of the EU. Brits have leading positions in the European Commission and the European Parliament. They have been very prominent in helping shape the European Union and its policies. As a Dutch liberal democrat I work closely together with my British friends, and more often than not, that alliance has been essential for achieving our goals in areas like free trade and competition, sustainability, innovation or civil liberties.

A Brexit would leave the UK out in the cold. There is nothing "splendid" about isolation. The UK will always rely heavily on its relations with the rest of Europe, whether it is in or out. Better to be part of those who are shaping the policies, than being on the outside. Sir Humphrey was wrong: divide and rule is not the best strategy. Being in the lead is.

Dear British friends, let's prove Sir Humphrey wrong on June 23rd!

* Sophie in 't Veld has been an MEP for the Dutch liberal D66 party since 2004. Since 2014 she is also the first Vice-President of the ALDE group. She works on civil and human rights, privacy and economic affairs.