In 2016, when the referendum came and went, I remember being captivated. I supported neither side in their fundamentals, and was relatively apathetic towards being a partial supporter for either side in the campaign. I was not even 16, and could not vote. Nevertheless I was shocked at the UK – a tolerant, pluralist, convention-based, pragmatic and generally stable nation, built on experience – going back on these key principles and ripping itself apart.
However, as time went on, I evermore felt that the arguments for leaving the European Union failed on their own terms. The Brexiteers stuck with an idea of the Nation State incompatible with the modern world. For the Brexiteers the nation needed to be important geopolitically, the nation needed to shape the agenda and influence and not be influenced by others’ agendas, and the nation needed to be in control of borders, laws, and everything.
This, the fundamentals of the Brexiteer mantra, is not an option, and though we should respect the sentiments behind this, I believe the best way to respect this notion of sovereignty is within the European Union. We can shape the global agenda better and retain what makes us special more effectively if we stay within the EU. We are a powerful and influential member yet, have failed to use this power well.
In addition, if we went it on our own, we would be reliant on the goodwill of others. However, we live in a world that is based on the economic and geopolitical strength based off economic interconnection and position within specific international organisations. This is something that the UK will not gain in any significance after a break with the EU. We will become a vassal state to larger powers – unable to forge our own way in the world, more than was previously the case.
Furthermore, the promise of the cutting of immigration being as a result of Brexit is unlikely. It is economic necessity to allow immigrants in. In addition, nations like India have already said a trade agreement would be dependent on greater freedom of movement. Some Brexiteers have their mind in the 18th Century, unable to see that the consequences of a rash action such as this is contrary to what they wish to achieve, we must retain our cool-headed pragmatism, that classic British trait, and do what will best achieve our aims – not principles for the sake of a knee-jerk radicalism.
Finally, in the words of David Davis, ‘if a democracy cannot change its mind, it is no longer a democracy’ – this sums up why we should, constitutionally be able to call a referendum. If Brexit fails on its own terms, we should not go through with it. I do not think it would be right to go through with it, if Brexit betrays the very people that it sought to represent – and so I cannot countenance a Brexit of any sort.
William Finlator is an 17 year old supporter and volunteer for European Movement.