29 June 2016
I waited in vain to hear that Europe is a spiritual and moral project
I have never before been ashamed of being a Briton.
The day after the referendum, someone in Brussels arranged flowers on the street in front of the European Union offices. The flowers spelled a message, which pleaded simply: “Please Stay.” After the grief and anguish of the last few days, seeing the photograph of these fragile blooms laid so tenderly on the tarmac, extending a final desperate attempt at friendship, nearly broke my heart.
It is not the crass rhetoric, the frequent dishonesty, and the exploitation of the desperate divides in our already polarised society, that we witnessed during the campaigning and debating that have shamed me, disgraceful though they were. It is the sheer small-heartedness of the way we went about making this decision.
Britain’s membership of the EU was never just about us. It was about what we believe in, what sort of world we want: do we believe in solidarity, in the hard graft of community-building across every kind of divide, in friendship and cooperation despite all the odds? Or would we rather just be safe in our little citadel, in full control of our own identity and vulnerable to no one else’s? Once, we dropped families, livelihoods, and life itself, to go the aid of our neighbours. But we live in a more selfish age.
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