A lot of Americans have asked for my opinion on today’s EU referendum and I have usually explained that it makes me feel a little awkward because I no longer live in the UK and I am not in possession of all the facts. As the date drew closer, however, I thought long and hard about it and realised that as a British citizen I probably should have been more concerned with the outcome. I have done a lot of reading about the issue in the past few weeks and seem to have seen every bloody Facebook post from the supporters of both sides. Did you realise that if you vote in pencil the officials will erase your vote and change it? Yes that claim is doing the rounds online, I can’t even.
Initially I was rather ambiguous about the result, the EU can be very useful but it can also be fantastically irritating. We sometimes don’t understand Europe and nothing shows this more than when we finish behind a karaoke singer with a disco ball in the Eurovision Song Contest because all the other countries vote for their neighbours and we only have Ireland next to us. Thinking about it though, I can’t conceive of a isolationist United Kingdom that sits on the side of Europe glowering across the channel and pretending that it isn’t a part of Europe. We have always been a part of Europe whether we like it or not.
There have been plenty of lies and scare tactics on both sides of the campaign but in my heart I want to see Britain as a part of the European project. Yes the EU needs reform but you don’t change the behaviour of your neighbours by ignoring them, you give them cookies and talk to them about how you can get to know each other better. The Remain campaign has annoyed me too by selling Britain short. As much as Europe has a lot to offer us, we have a lot to offer to Europe too, not just in terms of the fact that we are one of the few countries that pays in more than we get out but also as a valuable counterweight to the power of France and Germany and our unique perspective.
I think, overall, that I would rather the UK remain a part of the European project rather than isolating ourselves from the rest of the continent and making a decision that it would be very difficult to go back on in the future. I am not allowed to vote in US elections and the only country that I am on the electoral roll in is the UK so I feel like a bit of a plonker for not registering for a postal vote. If the Leave campaign wins by one vote then you can blame me!