A Letter to Emma Thompson

Dear Mrs Thompson,

I was very interested to read of your views concerning Britain’s role in the European Union and our potential exit. Unlike certain newspapers, which shall remain nameless, I believe that it is a fundamentally good thing that someone of your stature shares their views as it will almost certainly get people to take notice and engage with what is a fundamentally important issue. You and I are a both aware that Britain’s future direction will be determined by the outcome of the forthcoming referendum and it is a direction that may impact on our islands for many decades, perhaps even centuries, to come. It is impossible to say how long the ramifications will last. So, therefore, I must applaud you for sharing your views and getting people to take notice.

I have to say that I, personally, believe the opposite to yourself. I think that rather than it being ‘madness,’ as you termed it, it would be more beneficial for us to step away. This is not because I think that it is a bad thing and that Europe is ‘evil’ as some people claim. It has the power to do enormous good, to bring people together and to tackle problems and issues which affect the whole continent and the wider world. It has already brought down barriers and borders between people, which as you intimate is a good thing. But the problem as I see it is that the EU is too political. Such a body will always have to be political to some degree but I do not think it is necessary, for that body to achieve the good it can achieve, to wield political power in the same way that the EU does. It controls, for want of a better word. Is the regulation of medical equipment manufacture (Medical Devices Directive-1993) or the numerous copyright directives really necessary? What overall good do those directives provide? Nothing that needs a dictatum from Brussels by my estimation. They appear just as control for the sake of control- Bureaucratic meddling, in other words. If it is to make the world a better place, to tackle the issues that need tackling, the EU has to be apolitical rather than political. It should not be concerned with trivial aspects of our lives such as copyright or medical devices manufacturing. There should be no bureaucratic meddling. It should not be a body for control, as political bodies inevitably are, but one for debate and problem solving. Something more akin to the United Nations but on a smaller scale.

One of the principal aims of the EU is further integration, the creation of a federal Europe, and I do not see that as a good thing. In order to tackle an issue such as climate change what will a single federal Europe be able to achieve that the composite body we have now cannot? There will still be the same arguments between the states, the same issues arising over whatever policies are decided upon. The only benefit that a federal Europe would have would be in the better implementation of those polices. Otherwise it isn’t needed. It is, again, too much political power for a body that would be better suited to being apolitical. And yes, I know part of Cameron’s deal is that Britain will never be part of an EU superstate but who is to say that will hold up. And if the rest of Europe does become one federal state and we’re still a member but not a part of that federal state, won’t we just become an irrelevance to the whole thing, a backwater part of the continent to be ignored? In my opinion we will.

I will admit that the EU does do the good stuff as well, despite the wielding of too much political power. As mentioned earlier, it brings down barriers and borders. It brings people together and tackles the big issues that need to be tackled. Look at all the good things the EU has done for human rights and equality. The world is a better place because of the fact that the EU invested itself in those issues. It will surely do the same for the environment and climate change. So how then you ask, if Britain were outside the EU, would it be able to assist in solving these many problems? Many of the issues facing our society today are not just pan European issues but ones that are global. Climate change affects every nation on earth and every country has to be involved in beating it. Regardless of our EU status that includes ourselves here in Britain. The same is true with the rise of Islamic state and the crisis in the middle east. We are too heavily involved on the global stage, too much of an economic power house not to be regarded as an important voice in any discussions that take place.

And we shall, I am sure, continue to be an important player even if we are outside the EU. Despite what some people are claiming it probably won’t bring our economy crashing to its knees. It might, at worst, take a small knock for a short while but that’s nothing we probably can’t handle. In the long term we’ll be alright. Britain has always punched well above its weight when it comes to the global stage and I don’t think that is something that is likely to go away.

The EU is not what it needs to be and no amount of renegotiations or reform is going to change that. When a building is poorly constructed or falling down you need to bulldoze it and build something new. The EU, as far as I see it, is not fit for the purpose we need it for. It is a building that is falling down. It might have started out with the best of intentions but, alas, those intentions have become all pie in the sky. We certainly need something like it, something that can take down boundaries and do some good in the world, but I don’t think that thing is the EU.

If I may offer a suggestion as to what could replace it. We, this sodden and miserable cake filled little island, are a nation of innovators and pioneers so why do we not use those skills to our advantage and build the organisation which we need? We could step out of the old, the EU, and lead the nations of Europe into a new apolitical body designed to tackle the problems of Europe and the world. It should be as the original European community was intended to be, a place where nations can go and work together in peace and to discuss issues. It shouldn’t be about a federal Europe or even a single economic Europe as that, I believe, is where the body we have now went wrong. Like the United Nations it should not be dominated by one nation, as the EU is by France and Germany. It should be inclusive and equal. And maybe instead of being run by politicians it should be run by the ordinary people of Europe. How that would work in practice, however, I am not so sure.

Anyway, those are just my own thoughts on the issues and I thought I would share with you. As I stated at the start, Europe is a very important issue and we need to get all the differing viewpoints across if we are to make the right decision come the referendum. If we are to do this we need to discuss and we need to argue our points in a rational way. We can’t just be spitting bile at the opposing side like the newspapers and other mainstream media seem to do. If we can all be rational then certainly, whatever the result of the forthcoming referendum, things shall work out for the best.

Yours,
JPC.

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