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Leaving the EU but not leaving Europe

Today is a day that for me feels very sad. I won’t pretend I was always a passionate European, in fact until a few years ago I didn’t give our membership of the EU that much thought but as the song goes “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”.

I believe that the case we made in the Autumn and the run up to the General Election for citizens to have the final say on Brexit was right, and I still believe this Conservative driven decision is wrong. 

However, whether you voted remain or leave I know that Reading West is a strong and resilient community and what the vast majority of us want is to make sure Brexit doesn’t lead us to into becoming a narrower, weaker and more divided place.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Labour’s MEPs who have consistently stood up for our country in parliament, in stark contrast to the way the Brexit Party MEPs behaved. I’m particularly grateful to Anneliese Dodds, a true champion of the South East who is now an MP and John Howarth who took over from her who even in the last few weeks has championed issues as diverse as the conflict in Kashmir to the case of the British young woman accused of ‘lying’ about a gang rape in Cyprus. Today is a particularly sad day for John and his staff but they can be truly proud of their role in standing up for Britain in Europe.

From a national point of view I’m sure we will all judge this government on whether it ultimately makes our lives better, our communities more united and our country stronger.  Based on the last decade I am not holding my breath.  

In the meantime I’m planning to support Reading West’s EU nationals in whatever way I can – the 3 Million campaign group nationally will still have work to do and I’m joining the Reading Refugee Support Group “50ps for Refugees” pledge – something remainers and leavers can unite around: whether you donate in celebration or, like me, in sorrow.

Either way we are not leaving Europe and I remain proud to be an Englishwoman, a Brit and a European.

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