My mother’s uncles lie buried in a First World War graveyard in France. My father spent the years between 1939 and 1945 in the British Army fighting to defend this country and save the world from appalling tyranny. For centuries the fortunes of this country have been bound up with the continent of Europe.
And the vote on EU membership this Thursday is the most important political decision of my lifetime. More important than any General Election and more important than the first vote on membership forty years ago because since then the forces of globalisation that brought Honda and Zurich to Swindon have made the world far more interdependent than ever before in human history.
So it is depressing that the political campaign for that vote on 23 June is the worst in my lifetime, low and dishonest. Both sides have been guilty of patronising and betraying the British people with spin and deceit.
The Leave camp have peddled myths about what will happen if Britain votes to exit the EU, pretending that one cross on a ballot paper will magically solve the most pressing challenges we face as a nation. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remain is guilty of making forecasts they pretend are facts but which they know they cannot guarantee will happen.
In these last few days before the vote it is time for the British people to take back this campaign from the elites of the political establishment. And, whatever they want you to believe, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove and Nigel Farage are just as much part of the political elite as their opponents, and, declaration of interest, as I am. They’ve been members of the UK Parliament and the European Parliament for a total of 36 years and paid themselves over £2 million of taxpayers money over that period. They’ll be alright whatever happens on June 23. It’s the British people who will pay the price if the vote goes the wrong way on Thursday.
So don’t trust any of them. I will be voting Remain but don’t take my advice on anything except trusting yourself. Trust yourself and what you know about your world.
Ask yourself how many jobs you think Honda and BMW will keep in Swindon if they can’t sell their cars as easily in Europe as they do now ?
Ask yourself how long it will take to negotiate a new trade deal with the EU if we vote to leave on Thursday. A month ? A year ? Five years ?
Do you think we will exercise more effective control in a complex and interdependent world, full of risks, by working closely with our neighbours or by standing alone ?
Do you think our world class high technology and financial services benefit from our current membership of the EU Single Market or they’ll do better outside it ?
Do you think we can’t sort out immigration if we stay in the EU when we’ve sorted out the challenges of successive waves of immigration for the last 100 years ? We all know people whose parents were born abroad. Why should you think we can’t sort immigration out again as we always have ?
Ask yourself if we can better tackle the challenges of Islamist terrorism inside or outside the EU ? Ask yourself if we can better tackle the challenges of climate change inside or outside the EU ?
And then vote on 23 June not because of what some politician has told you but because you’ve decided what’s best for you and your family and what will build the best future for our country.