The shorter, snappier version of why I am loosely pro-EU.
The really short version: Having got a better than average grasp of both British and European history, I am rather aware of how times change – and of how incredibly closely Britain’s fate has been tied to that of the rest of Europe for most of its existence.
Attitudes held 500 years ago are (mostly) no longer valid today; attitudes held today will most likely no longer be valid in 500 years. (500 years ago, England was an underdeveloped Catholic backwater still recovering from decades of civil war. 500 years before that it had a different language and dominant ethnicity, was split in half and under constant attack from the Vikings.)
Add to that the fact that Britain has been in decline for at least the last century, and I reckon that although we may be able to hack it on our own for the time being, maybe even for another century or two, long term we’ll be better off having a bit of backup.
I don’t want to see Britain jump into a European superstate in the immediate future, if ever. I just reckon that the whole concept of the nation state is heading for a shakeup. The world is globalising, and it makes sense to broaden our horizons – even if that does mean, long term, that Britain itself ends up just part of a greater whole.
After all, Britain itself is made up of innumerable minor kingdoms, from Kent, Wessex and Mercia to the various Welsh principalities and Scotland (itself originally a mere patchwork of competing tribal claims). In two thousand years’ time, I doubt if the then inhabitants of this island will have any real concept of “Britishness”, just as I have no concept of being a subject of the kingdom of Sussex, despite having grown up within the borders of that ancient realm. Am I bothered by this? No.
As I say, I’m talking VERY long term best interests – for the people, not the nation state. And, perhaps most importantly, in the best interests of the people who will be living when our decisions take effect, not the short-term interests of those of us alive now.
The current EU is flawed, and due for a major shake-up. The idea behind it, however, is a sound one – and I still have hope that eventually the EU itself will more closely come to resemble something on which we can all agree, and evolve naturally through the years in the best interests of all the people of Europe.
I couldn’t care less, long term, about the fate of any of the nation states – they were all formed over time via a combination of mutual agreement and conflict, their borders and institutions are largely arbitrary, and our status as citizens of one or another is purely an accident of birth. In this more civilised age, I’m hoping Europe can unite without the conflict, and that the people of Europe can choose for themselves to live peacefully together.
VERY, VERY long term, I’d like to see the entire planet united as one, in some kind of wishy-washy liberal utopia of the likes on display in that Star Trek nonsense.
In my lifetime, I’ll settle for a gradual decline in unthinking nationalism and growth in close international co-operation.
So, even shorter, I guess I’m some kind of idealist.