For me, the EU is about much more than economics, even though this too is important. The foundations of the EU were laid after the war, at a time of destruction, chaos, forced mass migrations, revolutions, civil wars, retribution and starvation. Leaders at the time realised that Europe needed to come together to end centuries of war by building cooperation, at first through trade and economic prosperity.
This made Europe the most stable and rich it had ever been, raising living standards for hundreds of millions of people. I remember when we joined the Common Market in 1973, the UK was a weaker, poorer country than its neighbours; since then we have caught up and have been able to contribute - for example, by leading the drive towards the single market and free movement that Brexiteers now want to abandon.
By 1990, the EU was crucial in supporting former Communist countries in Eastern Europe as they democratised and I have discovered recently how much the EU backed peace in Ireland too when the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1997. This work involved more than trade and economics.
Cheap flights across Europe; common arrest warrant processes; harmonised food regulation; clean beaches; crackdowns on anti-competitive behaviour; controls in mobile phone roaming charges - all these are achievements of the EU that the UK alone could not have made. We have shared our power and resources with our neighbours to produce reforms that benefit us all. We have also come together to do trade deals with countries such as Japan, while between us in Europe we have no tariffs and minimal border controls.
Finally, in the UK we have never acknowledged the role of the EU in giving economic assistance here. Many parts of the country - especially rural and former industrialised regions - have received substantial funding that few of us ever heard about, to help with regeneration. This is over and above the agricultural support to our farms and countryside.
Brexit is the most important issue we will face in a generation, maybe more. It affects all of us, particularly younger people. It calls on those of us who want to remain in the EU to explain its benefits and recognise its defects, so that the UK can stay to lead reforms that make the EU less remote and better understood.
That’s why I’ve volunteered here at The People’s Vote Campaign, to help coordinate the thousands of people who have also offered their help. I have been on the phone to raise support; walked on marches; posted leaflets through letterboxes; canvassed all my mates to get them to step up in any way they can.
More and more people are getting involved, from the whole range of political opinion and among those who haven’t been ‘political’ before. It’s the most worthwhile campaign you could ever join!
Sean Arnold is a volunteer and supporter of the People's Vote campaign.
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