Stronger In or Vote Leave: The view from a pro-European

In the fifth in a series looking at the views of people from outside of the political bubble, on the EU referendum, Lucy Ashton gets the pro-European perspective.

David looks out from his countryside home over the windswept landscape; fields and farms which seem isolated yet are just a few miles from the bustling city centre of Sheffield.

The city has always been dubbed “a dirty picture in a golden frame” because of its industrial steel heritage bounded by the beautiful Peak District.

For David, the bigger picture includes our European neighbours as well as the glorious rolling hills of Yorkshire. He readily admits that “people are better being part of something larger”.

Sheffielders often say they don’t live in a city but a collection of villages which echoes David’s thoughts on the EU.

“I think we will all be financially better off as part of the EU, but more than this, I think that people are better together being part of a bigger ‘tribe’ than being split into smaller tribes,” he explains, bending down to pat one of his dogs.

“I recall the fundamental logic for setting up the EU included the rationale that the member states would not go to war with each other if they were so tightly bound in one organisation.

“For much of my life that seemed kind of theoretical only. I mean after World War Two it was just unthinkable that European countries would go to war, or that we would see state sponsored genocide, right?

“And then the Eastern Bloc fell apart, Yugoslavia fell apart and we all saw what happened in Serbia and Bosnia. So I think it a very real danger that separate European states will find a reason to go to war, so it is essential that the EU is successful. And Britain’s role in that is essential so we should stay.”

David feels those voting to leave have two main concerns – losing control over British laws and the fear of uncontrolled immigration, fuelled by the Syrian refugee crisis.

“The concern of loss of control of laws is a spurious concern. I mean the UK remains fully in charge of its destiny, it only cedes control over minor areas where common interest gives benefit. In this we are like all the countries in the EU. They all give a little to get back a lot.”

He admits the fear over immigration is a “big one” by says the Syrian crisis affects the whole world.

“I have friends in Canada complaining that Canada has agreed to take 20,000 Syrian refugees. They expressed all the same fears that I hear from people in the UK.

“These fears are fed by media that likes to propel moral outrage by finding stories of immigrants taking advantage by getting benefits or using the NHS. These are extreme examples, the truth is immigrants overwhelmingly contribute positively to the British economy.

“We just need to ensure immigration is controlled, and actually we are better being inside the EU to do that, than we would be outside the EU.”

David also has the Yorkshire bluntness about what benefits he gets from Europe. “My children can go work in any of the countries, or I can move to warmer climates for my retirement without jumping through all the hoops I would if we were out of Europe.

“I get to buy things from Europe without import duty on them etc. There are lots of obvious and many more less obvious benefits we all get from being in the EU. They are easy to forget about, but they are benefits that we can all take advantage from.”

Lucy Ashton is a journalist and former Political Editor

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4 Responses to “Stronger In or Vote Leave: The view from a pro-European”

  1. Tafia says:

    “And then the Eastern Bloc fell apart, Yugoslavia fell apart and we all saw what happened in Serbia and Bosnia.

    All blocs eventually fall apart – always have, always will – name one that hasn’t. Attempting to prevent that is a waste of time, energy and resources. And people who attempt to prevent it are sticking their fingers in their ears and going la-la-la and refusing to accept reality and being simple enough to believe you can control destiny.

    Nothing stands still, everything changes and everything collapses in the end – even you. The EU is doomed whether we remain or leave. All we are voting on is whether we wish to sink on the ship or jump into the sea. But the ship is ulitimately going down.

  2. JV says:


    That’s rather a self-fulfilling prophecy. Of course all blocs have fallen apart – because if they hadn’t then they would still exist. Just because it has happened in the past doesn’t mean it must happen again.

    The defence against a bloc falling apart is to change, to grow, to move with the times. This is why the EU changes over time, it’s why it’s not what was originally intended when the EU was set up, it’s why it’s not what we voted for last time – because as needs change the institution behind them must also change.

    So, yes, the EU may not survive *in its present form* but there’s nothing stopping that form changing with the times, changing to reflect the needs of the member states. There’s no reason why the EU has to dissolve rather than change.

  3. Mr Akira Origami says:

    @ the marxists who have now occupied the Labour party.

    “Only a third of the EU is governed by the centre-left”…..

    “Call me comrade Jezza” has betrayed you…

    Voted against memership in 1975

    Voted against Maastricht treaty in 1993

    Voted against Lisbon treaty in 2008

    Voted against his comrades in 2016!

  4. TrT says:

    Of course the next step of Brexit is to sack Paris, nuke Berlin and rape our way through Madrid…

    Clearly, the labour party wishes this, and it is only the EU that prevents Corbyn from going to war.

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