The referendum to remain in or leave the EU may be the most important political event of my life. An epic, 72-years-in-the-making supranational organisation, the EU has become a testament on how Europe’s co-operation and ingenuity in the post-war-period can make people more connected the world over. It has facilitated the longest period of peace in Europe in humanity’s history, torn down trade barriers and tariffs that previously limited our minds and our purses and united the states of Europe to confront the greatest task mankind has ever yet to face: climate change.
Its accomplishments have not gone unrewarded, the organisation receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 and the vast majority of Europe’s political and cultural leaders happy to be a part of it. However, we find ourselves in a situation where, probably by the end of this year, the UK will be having an in/out referendum on whether we should stay a part of this organisation. Whether we should continue to have MEPs represent our views to the European Parliament, whether we should threaten the one in ten jobs in the UK that are directly linked with EU trade, and whether UK universities should continue to get the €1 Billion in science funding we’ve received from 2007 to 2014. Why is that? It’s because 50 or so Conservative MPs have used the current government’s slim-tight majority to pressure David Cameron into giving them a chance to distance our nation from our European neighbours. They wish for Britain to trade, communicate, and work less with our French, German, Spanish, Italian, and other European neighbours. They want this out of a mix of xenophobia, distrust of other countries, and some concerns about EU leadership and internal bodies – forgetting that it is a democratic institution that has changed dramatically in the past so, if need be, can change again.
Sadly, they are not alone. Almost every party has influential individuals that wish to make the United Kingdom more isolated. The Labour MP Kate Hoey is vice chair of the Vote Leave campaign, flanked by fellow Labourites Kelvin Hopkins and Graham Stringer. The Green Party’s sole representative in the House of Lords, Jenny Jones, is also campaigning for the ‘out’ side, and I don’t need to tell out about the antics of Nigel Farage and Douglas Carswell – whose only redeeming features are that they’re normally too busy fighting each other to campaign on this issue well anymore.
That leaves the Liberal Democrats as the only UK party left to campaign wholeheartedly to remain in Europe, and damn if we haven’t got a good leader to do it. Tim Farron is, according to Nick Clegg, the ‘best campaigner I have ever come across’, and I believe he’ll put that talent into full force to ensure we remain as connected to Europe as ever. While Cameron faces the awkward situation to half-heartedly campaign for In whilst his cabinet ministers are contradicting every word he says, and Jeremy Corbyn continues to be cold on the issue, possibly out of fear of opposition from his own party or possibly because of his own hidden Eurosceptic beliefs, the Liberal Democrats will be unapologetically taking a stand for the United Kingdom to part of the greater whole that is the European Union.
Callum Delhoy is the Events Officer of the University of York Liberal Democrats