Why I, as an EU citizen, want a People’s Vote – and why I decided to join the team making it happen

Published on October 31, 2018

"When I first moved to Britain from the United States four years ago, I only intended on staying for a year to attend drama school. But I quickly found myself falling in love with so many things about my adopted country- the British sense of humour, the NHS (as someone who grew up in America, I know the importance of Universal Healthcare), and of course, Bake Off.

Eventually, I decided to stay and make my home here. My grandparents fled the Holocaust, so I knew that I was eligible to obtain German citizenship through reparations. The decision to become a citizen of a country that caused my family so much pain only two generations earlier was a difficult one. Knowing that I would be living in a country I loved - the UK- helped. But what made the decision so much easier was the knowledge that I was gaining a new identity as a citizen not only of America and Germany, but of Europe.

The EU rose out of the ashes of fascism with the goal of promoting peace through economic ties - a goal that I would argue that it has been remarkably successful at. It has its flaws, yes, but I firmly believe that the EU has made Europe a more just, safe, and peaceful place.

EU migrants have also made significant financial contributions to Britain. On average, we pay more in taxes and consume less in public services than our native counterparts. According to figures from the government’s Migration Advisory Committee, EEA nationals living in the UK made a positive contribution of £4.7 billion in 2016/2017 alone.

After the 2016 referendum, I found myself becoming increasingly angry. A Polish community centre in my area was vandalized, and according to figures from the Metropolitan Police, more than 14,000 hate crimes were reported in the two months that followed the referendum result. It seemed as though the tolerant, multicultural Britain that I fell in love with was becoming more insular, more afraid.

In the two years since the referendum, my anger has not dissipated. It has intensified as the architects of the Leave campaign increasingly flee the scene, knowing full well that a bad-deal Brexit will harm the very people they claim to represent. It has now become abundantly clear that the promises made by Brexiteers (including the infamous £350m more a week for our NHS), won’t be kept.

What I’ve realised, however, is that anger by itself is insufficient. Anger alone does not create change. Only hope can do that.

Whether you voted leave or remain, it is undeniable that Brexit will have a substantial impact on life in the UK for generations to come. Young people will bear the brunt of Brexit’s consequences - which is why it was young people that led a march of over 700,000 people through the streets of London on October 20th. It was a day filled with inspiration, optimism, and yes, hope.

It doesn’t seem right that the Government is insisting that people just accept whatever version of Brexit they come back with. Let’s be clear: a People’s Vote would not be merely a rerun of the 2016 referendum. It would be a chance for the electorate to make an informed decision once we have all the facts on the Brexit deal. Fighting for a People’s Vote is the only way to ensure that the tradition of proper parliamentary and public scrutiny of government decisions is upheld. And nothing is more British than that."


MacKenzie Horn
Membership and Finance Officer at European Movement UK

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