by Alan Wheatley
"Brexiteers with short memories also forget the critical role the EU played in embedding democracy and human rights in southern Europe after the collapse of Right-wing dictatorships in Spain, Portugal and Greece. Similarly, the EU – and in particular Margaret Thatcher - deserve credit for entrenching free elections, the rule of law and largely open markets in Eastern Europe and the Baltic states after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Europe’s hinterland is immeasurably more secure now that the Soviet Union’s former satellites look to Brussels instead of Moscow, and to NATO instead of the Warsaw Pact.
True, the EU was unable to prevent the Balkan wars of the 1990s. But since then Croatia and Slovenia have become EU members and other states carved out of former Yugoslavia are queuing up to join, vastly reducing the chances of a new conflagration.
So I will vote on June 23 to stay in the EU not primarily because I think it’s in the UK’s economic interest; or that membership give us more influence on global issues; or because I value the automatic right of British citizens to live and work in the rest of the EU; or because of the opportunities that EU programmes such as the Erasmus student exchange scheme give young people today. I will vote to remain because the crumbling of the EU could upset the peace and stability that my generation, like Reg’s rebels in Life of Brian, complacently takes for granted."