Should we stay or should we go?
The murder West Yorkshire MP Jo Cox is shocking and casts a shadow across the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. The possible mind-set and motives of her killer lead us to fear for our democratic freedoms and civil society in Britain. Her death puts the claims and counter claims of competing politicians into a fresh perspective.
Long ago I decided to vote to stay and I have yet to hear any convincing political or economic arguments to make me change my mind. Leaving seems an unnecessary step into the unknown and may bring unwelcome consequences.
Nevertheless I understand the anxieties some people have about immigration, jobs and pressures on public services. Where decisions are made and who pays for what are of course important. As the number of member states has increased, so British Governments have set about reforming the EU and our place within it. I believe this is the right approach to pursue.
Here in Scotland there seems a warmer embracing of being part of Europe and UK vote to leave would bring back demands for another independence referendum. No wonder businesses are desperate for a period of stability in which they can plan, invest and grow.
Beyond political and economic self-interest however lies a wider question of identity. The early EU was a post Second World War way of forging peaceful collaboration between France and Germany and a strong partnership within NATO in the days of the Cold War. We here do not always appreciate the terrible damage done by centuries of violence, boundary changes and forced migrations across Europe.
As a Christian Church leader I believe in embracing diversity and challenging hatred. In her maiden parliamentary speech Jo Cox spoke of a common purpose overcoming difference. To that end the EU today must be a 21st century multi-cultural community playing its part in a world of global challenges and institutions. We in the UK have so much to offer by staying.
Bishop Nigel’s article in the Courier a widely read Scottish daily newspaper published in Dundee on Saturday, 16 June 2016