current affairs democracy globalisation

Why I’ll be voting to remain in the EU

The world in the 21st century is smaller than it was. We are more connected than ever before, in so many ways. Just in the course of this morning, I have engaged with a host of international networks. Breakfast involved global trade, particularly the coffee from Ethiopia. Here I am working on a laptop made in China, logged into an blogging platform based out of San Francisco. A band from South Africa is playing through a Swedish music service that I subscribe to. I’ve encountered human networks too, dropping my son off at school alongside parents from Pakistan, Romania, Poland, France, Nigeria, and many other countries. Whatever my passport says, my life is not neatly contained within the nation-state of Great Britain.

We are all global citizens in this way. Even the staunchest of patriots wants the benefits of global trade, international tourism, the internet, and the movement of goods and capital around the world.

Along with these global benefits, many of our problems are international too. We all share the sky, and nature doesn’t respect our political boundaries. Sometimes that’s very direct: last month DEFRA issued an air pollution warning as warm air from the south brought a wave of Saharan dust and European diesel fumes across from the continent. Most of the time it is less obvious than that, but all of us are indirectly affected by China’s coal power ambitions, US fuel efficiency legislation, or Brazil’s stewardship of its forests. Climate change, pollution, deforestation, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification and the decline of fish stocks – none of these are any respecter of the nation state and its borders.

Conflict and security looks very different too. We spent centuries squabbling with our immediate neighbours in France. Right through into the 20th century nations and empires went to war with other nations and empires, but that began to erode in the late 1900s. Wars spread internationally along ideological lines, and the biggest security risks we face today are even harder to point to on a map. The perpetrators of 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia, which remained an ally of the US. The Paris bombers came from Brussels. There are still rogue nationalist states such as Putin’s Russia, but they are held in check by international alliances, not by the individual might of single countries. Extremism and terrorism, conflict refugees, the legal and illegal arms trade, all of these things are outside the scope of countries on their own.

There’s more. The great scientific projects of our age are collaborative and jointly funded, whether that is space, energy, experimental physics or medical research. And as Ebola, the Zika virus, HIV or bird flu have shown, international research is entirely appropriate for global health problems. We source our energy from across the globe, our food, our investment finance, our cultural goods.

All of which suggests that the future belongs to the collaborators, to those willing to partner, to share power, to work together. Global issues are solved by global cooperation, and the independent, sovereign nation-state is an increasingly obsolete structure of power. No international institution is perfect. There is always room for improvement and greater efficiency. But fundamentally, the challenges of our global world require us to cooperate.

And that means that retreating from international cooperation is the last thing we should be doing. The idea that we should stand alone, a proud island nation, is a dream that is a century out of date. Pursuing it will make us less equipped for the reality of today’s world, and more vulnerable to the borderless problems we face. National interest is too narrow a lens in the 21st century. We need a wider view, a broader conversation, and a deeper understanding of the common good.

That is why I will be voting to remain in the EU on the 23rd of June.


  1. I voted to join the Common Market along with Ted Heath.

    What we have now is a dictatorship run mainly by Germany.

    You have to vote out to bring back control of our boarders, legal system, finance etc.

    It is no longer a Common Market ………………a Common Merkel. As I see EU stands for Extremely Useless.

    I’m OUT

    Much bigger fish to fry outside the EU.

  2. So there’s no collaboration between any countries outside the EU? Absurd idea. The EU has high tariff barriers against African exports but dumps EU subsidised food on Africa destroying their farmers. Outside the EU the UK can be fairer to them and have their cheaper food for import here.
    The UK in the EU has no flexibility in its relations with other countries as it has to follow what the EU does etc., etc.
    So those 200 countries not in the EU are not proud?

    ” National interest is too narrow a lens in the 21st century” – national interest exactly is the argument for the Remainers!
    ” We need a wider view, a broader conversation,” yes, not hiding in the EU.

    1. I’m not trying to summarise the ‘remain’ arguments. I’m telling you why I’m voting to stay in the EU, and my reasoning is broader than national interest.

      It would indeed be absurd to say that there’s no collaboration outside the EU – and I argue no such thing. But we’d be walking away from the biggest forum we have for collaboration. I know the leave campaign doesn’t consider exit to be an isolationist position, but we’d be leaving a group of countries that want to work with us around common goals, and hoping for the best that others want to negotiate with us. A big assumption.

      I’d like to hope Britain would treat the world more fairly if it left the EU, but I’m not sure a fairer deal for Africa is high on the leave agenda. I certainly haven’t heard it.

      1. Sadly, the Brexit campaners are very dominated by immigration and will, if they get their way continue to encourage this ‘nationalistic’ agenda.

  3. Your perogative Jeremy- but by remaining inside the European Union will mean a loss of the Freedoms we currently enjoy, will mean that the EU will continue on with its founding father’s policy of a one united state of Europe, which in order to control around 530 million people of many differing nations will undoubtedly result in very stringent controlling measures which in their turn will emerge as communism. Having lived and worked in Europe I can from my own observations and study over 10 yrs be quite certain it will not be a place of peace-it will continue to wrestle with civil unrest as those that have known Freedom and whose fathers and forefathers fought so hard to win, will strive against a Police State to achieve-the EU is controlled by those that control the Money-and they will continue to force debt upon all people so as to keep them enslaved and easily manipulated to do their will. NO I do not want such a future for my children or grandchildren. One further danger that will eventually add to the destruction of Western Europe is the advance of Islam. That cannot be denied BUT out of the clutches of the EU, Britain will at least stand a chance of making a better future for her citizens.

      1. The EU does not now represent the unity of the European peoples, but rather the dictatorship of what some see as the most powerful ecnomic and financial interest over Europe. Socialism leads to communism eventually and to manage the control of 530 odd million people representing 28 very differing nations can only be controlled by subjugation and eventual enslavement which becomes communism-already the EU has and is planning an EU Army that will be led by Field Marshall Merkel-control again-and where did she originate from? Eastern Europe that was controlled under the USSR. Making predictions? Well yes I am, but have tried to make such predictions following the writings from many notable people some who knew the founding fathers of the European Project, & including various journalistic reviews, amongst many other valuable essays and having lived in this troubled world for last 75 yrs I do not see a happy future ahead for this world. I could not or would attempt to alter your mind on the subject of Remain or Leave-just wish that you will be able to hold onto your valuable Freedoms.

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