Thursday 3 September 2015

A eurosceptic pledge

I have written to Arron Banks of The Know today with a suggested statement. It is my view that unless the following underpins the message of the Brexit campaign and is central to editorial decision making, we will lose the referendum.

We believe our future prosperity depends on leaving the EU. In that, those who join our campaign are are united. But today we must make a distinction.

While the EU has many faults, we recognise that while separate to it, it will still play a huge part in the economic and social life of the continent. We will need the EU as it will need us. It is our aim to be its strongest critic but also its best friend and ally. In terms of the global challenges we face, their problems are our problems too.

We do not see Brexit as an end to cooperation or participation in joint EU programmes. While we have our differences, we share the same values in principle, if not in practise. To that end, we will seek jointly to bring the global migration crisis to a resolution, combining our legal, scientific and humanitarian expertise to bring salvation to those in need. We will use our diplomatic and military influence to protect lives and to end conflicts wherever the opportunity presents. Our doors will never be closed to those in need of refuge.

It is our view that that liberty and openness are central to our prosperity and it is our liberal, democratic values that make Britain the number one destination for migrants the world over. We recognise their contribution as well as their intrinsic value as human beings.

In that we must balance our own need to ensure that our safety and security are not threatened and that the safety net that underpins each and every one of us is not abused or taken for granted. Through a century of struggle we have fought for rights and entitlements that make us the envy of the world. It is our duty to ensure that our immigration and asylum policy does not threaten that, lest we squander the hard won victories of our forebears.

How we achieve this is the subject of much debate and there will be irreconcilably different views. We recognise that such debates will bring forth passions and heated exchanges. We welcome this. Debate and disagreement are central to democratic discourse.

But in this we condemn utterly racism, bigotry, and intolerance. We do not point the finger at any single party. We recognise that all parties have their distasteful fringes and sometimes passions can suppress common sense and basic decency. But we must never lose sight of the fact that Europeans are our brothers and sisters, cousins and spouses - and that those washing ashore in the Mediterranean are real humans escaping real poverty and real suffering the likes of which most of us could hardly imagine.

This organisation does not and will not endorse the toxic and poisonous rhetoric of the bigots who spread fear and hatred against them. To them we say not in our name. They do not share our cause. We do not share their vision or their sentiments. We do not seek to be an isolated fortress island and we do not live in fear. Our vision is for the UK to be an independent nation confidently asserting its values of freedom and democracy - promoting mutual free trade and prosperity not only for ourselves but for the whole globe. In that there is no room for hating our fellow humans no matter their colour, creed or faith.*

*Except maybe Katie Hopkins and George Galloway. Hating them is fine.

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