From Roman times to 1945 Europe has been a centre of world power. But also a centre of cut-throat rivalry between the multitude of nations that share the continent. The devastation caused by these rivalries have been demonstrated many a time in that long history. None more catastrophic than the events of 1914 – 18 and 1939 – 45. Yes, you got it right. I mean World War 1 and 2.
The loss of lives, destruction and impact of these wars on Europe and the world had been seminal. Indeed, the fallout has not yet entirely dissipated. Did I hear you asked what has that to do with Brexit, a sovereign British exercise seemingly a light year from those events. Well here is the answer. The European Union, the continuation or successor of the European Economic Community has been remarkably successful in curtailing the European ultra-nationalism responsible for so much bloodshed in the past. Is not fascinating that former arch enemies, Germany and France can today sit together at the same table planning peace and progress for the continent.
Britain which came late into the EU was never trusted by France that it will whole-heartedly play by the rules of Europe. In fact, it had been blocked before by de Gaulle from entering the union. However, today France is one the leading voices in urging the British to remain inside the tent. That's another indication of the extent pan-European fraternity has overtaken national chauvinistic tendencies.
No one, not even the advocates for Brexit know for certain its full ramifications. But I do know that leaving the EU will be a big symbolic blow to the European project. Britain is certainly not the Britain of 1900. It is no longer as powerful as it was. But it would be a serious mistake to underestimate the importance of the UK to the survival of the European project.
Economics aside, it's important to remember that before the EU, Europe was a divided continent always at war with itself. That has since changed largely due to the merits of togetherness brought by the EU. It takes only political common sense to realise that supporting the status quo will do more good than calling for the balkanization of Europe. Taking a step back to 70 years or more is not a gamble worth the pain and uncertainty.
Don't get me wrong I understand the passion of those who feel that they need to take their country back from Brussels. They say Britain has lost its sovereignty, and too many EU citizens are coming in. Here is a reminder. Brexit would not kick Brussels out of UK affairs, the two have to negotiate to deal with each other at the EU's terms.
If you are not part of the club, it decides how to relate with you. If you are part of it, you decide with other members how to relate to each other. Which one is a better choice? If you think too many people coming to Britain is a problem, take a lesson in British history. The UK became one of the greatest world powers when it met many people outside of its borders. What you call “too many” today, was once the defining feature of your global reach. Diversity has and will only make Britain stronger.
Do you still believe in Brexit? I hope not.