I don’t want to leave the EU. On the surface I have a very simple, very selfish, reason. I want the freedom of travel it brings. I want to be able to go where the road and the wind takes me. Jay and I love Europe without borders. The easy transition from one country to the next. The strange sense of excitement and euphoria as we pass the road marker announcing we are now somewhere new. The enticing change of language on signs, heralding previously unknown customs and experiences. Fresh points of view. What will the food be like? Who will we meet? How will we be received? And all achieved by the simple on-going roll of our wheels. No guards. No questions. No rummaging through our bags. It’s wonderful, glorious, life enhancing stuff.
Return visits do nothing to lessen the joy of this experience. Now the wonder of “new” is replaced by the warm happiness of homecoming. Conversations start with “Do you remember that time we went to…?” or “Yay! Free olives!” My mother doesn’t greet us with an armed guard when we go visit her. And we really like that, within the EU, they don’t do that either. It’s nice to feel welcome. To feel like you’re accepted and belong. That you have a right to be there. It’s nice to not need visas. To have the reassurance of reciprocal health care should we need it. To have no limit to how long we can stay. To know that if we want to we can stay forever. Get a job. Buy a house.
In a BBC article today our UK justice minister Michael Gove, “warned that five potential new members of the EU – Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania and Turkey – would result in millions more people having the right to move to the UK.” Forget for a minute that the vast majority of people in these countries won’t move anywhere. Most of them will stay right where they are. Forget too that for those that do move they’ll have the whole EU to choose from, and the majority of “movers” won’t choose the UK. They’ll choose one of the other EU countries who have far better standards of living than we do. And do lets forget, as Mr. Gove and his kin are prone to do, the many, many positives that immigrants bring to our country. Lets forget all that for a moment and focus on something else hidden in that statement.
Five more countries that the 60+ millions of UK citizens will have the right to move to. To settle in. To buy ridiculously cheap houses in, and benefit enormously from the inexpensive cost of living. To purchase and rent out holiday properties to the surge of British tourists that will be queuing up to go there. Five more countries for nomads like me and Jay to freely wander and still be at home.
It’s selfish I know. I said that at the outset. But I’m not just talking from the viewpoint of a privileged British brat. I want those freedoms for myself. But I want them for other people too. For all people. Everywhere. For me there is nothing inherently special or “better” about being British. Or white. Or comparatively wealthy. We don’t get to choose where we’re born. Which nation we “belong” to. But our governments were happy for us to become the wealthy nation that we now are by stripping the wealth, knowledge, resources and labour from other nations. The wealthy nations of the world already took everything else. So maybe it’s about time they took the people too.
p.s. We’d love to hear your views on this. Let us know how you feel in the comments box below.