Exclusively written for the Sting by Mr Keith Taylor, UK MEP for the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance.
I don’t want to take my country back; I want to take it forward. Moving forward means working together with our closest neighbours to build a fairer, safer, and greener future.
Climate change, the pollution of our oceans, international terrorism, and the refugee crisis show no respect for borders. The best way to tackle these collective challenges is to collaborate with our neighbours on shared solutions.
By working together, we have created a European Union that defends our fundamental rights and freedoms. EU-wide laws are providing stronger protections in the workplace, safeguarding human rights, advancing equality, supporting a greener economy, improving animal welfare, and challenging the power of multinational corporations and global finance.
On these issues, we should also celebrate the positive change the EU has driven here in the UK. It is EU action on air pollution, for example, that is forcing our Government to address this public health emergency. In my constituency, in the South East of England, we enjoy 300 miles of beautiful coastline and it is thanks to EU laws and successful legal action by the European Commission that these beaches are as clean, clear and swimmable as they are today. The UK government resisted many of these changes.
The benefits of our EU membership are significant; they are not abstract, they are safeguards that affect our daily lives. We might take them for granted, but our right to get home from work in time to see our families, our ability to enjoy the wildlife that surrounds us, the quality of the air we breathe, our clean beaches, workplace equality and our place in a Europe of lasting peace are all protected by the EU.
As a Green, I recognise that the EU is far from perfect and I’m committed to working for a better Europe. A Europe that works for the common good of all its citizens. However, I and my Green colleagues can only continue to work for a better Europe if we keep our seat at the table.
The EU is a powerful force for collective and progressive action. If we walk away, the UK will be leaving the big political battles to others, unable to properly defend the interests of its citizens.
The referendum, therefore, to me, is a fight to keep Britain an outward-looking country that works with its closest neighbours to secure a fairer, safer and greener future.