I wrote this message some days ago, hoping to send you a positive few words about why remaining in the EU means so much to me. In the past few weeks we’ve seen our party come together to make a powerful Labour case for us to remain in the EU for the sake of all that we hold dear.
And now this positive unity is marked by such sorrow as we mourn Jo Cox.
More eloquent people than me have paid tribute to her. So all I can do is send you my own message, which I know she would have shared – that as Labour party members we must vote to remain in the EU.
For me, the decision to remain is very personal, pragmatic and underpinned by Labour values. I dread waking up on 24rd June to find that our country has chosen Brexit. That is why I volunteered to be the EU Referendum Champion for the Stroud Labour Party.
My red EU passport is precious to me – it represents freedom to travel, freedom from fear. The iron border that once divided my Welsh mother from my Romanian father is thankfully only a memory now but walls and barbed wire are again being raised across the continent against the most vulnerable, fleeing wars and conflict. We see the rise of the extreme right in France, Germany and Austria. A Brexit will only encourage them.
Staying in the EU is a pragmatic choice for me also. I can’t see how leaving will make the lives of ordinary people in this country better. For the sake of our economy, for jobs, and for the rights that protect our workers we need to stay. Those wanting Brexit say we will get our sovereignty back – but when it comes to welfare cuts and austerity, rising tuition fees and neglect of the NHS, this Tory government has all the sovereign power it needs.
The biggest challenges we face now – climate change, terrorism, tax evasion – do not respect borders. We cannot tackle these problems on our own. I hold to the values on my Labour membership card, ‘by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone.’
The EU is far from perfect, but there is a growing movement of tens of thousands of people across Europe coming together to campaign for a more democratic and just EU. This movement will be stronger if we in the UK are part of it.
I am voting to Remain for my children’s future even more than my own, for my country to remain at peace and to work with other nations to fight for justice and equality. And for Jo and all that she stood for.
I hope you will join me.
On behalf of all the Stroud CLP EU campaign team