First of all, I would like to say that I am extremely proud of my family. My grandfather fought in the trenches in WW1, my grandmother “kept the homefires burning” through both World Wars, and served in the “Land Army”. My father was a decorated combatant in WW2, in many of the most horrific theatres of war, including service with the 8th Army “Desert Rats” and on the beaches of Dunkirk. My mother served in what was then the WAAF as Stores Sergeant at RAF Binbrook in Lincolnshire. All of them gave their youth to make the UK and Europe what it is today. Millions of others gave their lives.
Contrary to much of the xenophobic rhetoric in the tabloid press, they did not do this to “make Britain great”, they did it to counter a very real threat to democracy and to unite Europe against the very hatred which the “Out” campaign is now attempting to reignite in the UK. The emergence of the European community was the final culmination of a centuries-long fight for continental harmony which dates back at least as far as the marriage of Philip II of Spain to England’s Mary Tudor in 1554.
Secondly, I need to point out that I AM AN ECONOMIC MIGRANT! On May 16th 2003, I migrated here to the Canary Islands, an autonomous province of Spain, primarily due to the demise of the UK “club circuit” and the need to find employment. I certainly wasn’t the first or last person to do so, and migration out of the UK into the rest of Europe holds steady at some 2,000,000 per year, roughly equal to the numbers migrating into the UK from the EU. In fact, until the admission to the EU of some of the former Eastern Block countries, outward migration from the UK to the rest of Europe consistently outstripped inward migration. Any imbalance was, is (and probably always will be) migration to the UK from non-European Commonwealth states, and that is not the fault of the EU. It is a result of the UK’s own Empire-building past. Whilst EU in:out migration figures hold fast at 2,000,000 in vs 2,000,000 out per year, inward migration from the rest of the world is in excess of 5,000,000 per year. That is what is not sustainable, and will remain an issue whether the UK is in or out of the EU. The answer to that is not isolationism. It is a reworking of the welfare state, along the same lines as those here in Spain, where welfare and benefits are based on length of residency and the amount of contributions. So long as the UK insists on doleing out benefits and child support to all-comers, they can expect to receive more comers! That should be blatantly obvious to anyone with half a brain! Return to Bevan’s original plan for the welfare state where help is given according to means and contributions, and the whole “migration problem” goes away.
I am constantly amazed by the number of British people living here in Spain and its provinces who are, like me, themselves migrants, who blindly regurgitate the anti-European sentiments of the “Out” campaign and the right-wing press. Just remember that we ourselves are “European migrants”, and ask yourself if you would like Spain to treat us the way you are asking the UK to treat other Europeans. After all, there is really no difference between the British working here and the Romanians or Polish working in the UK. At the end of the day, we are all just trying to make a living, but we don’t see Spain threatening to leave the EU so they can refuse migrants from the UK!
That is why, on 23rd June, I will be voting to keep the UK in the EU, and I urge all other UK “migrants” here in Spain, and around Europe, to do likewise.