Why I will vote Remain for hope

Speaker's Corner columnists -  Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk/opinion, @peterboroughtel on Twitter, Facebook.com/peterboroughtoday
Speaker's Corner columnists - Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk/opinion, @peterboroughtel on Twitter, Facebook.com/peterboroughtoday

I don’t know about you, but I’m fed up with the clanging statistics and jarring soundbites of this referendum. Brexit is such a black box, such an unknown, that it seems leaving would be the equivalent of stepping across the event horizon of a black hole.

I’m going to save you a headache and not wade further into this messy debate. I want to tell you the real reason why I’m voting Remain: my grandfather, Derek. A man of great intellect, a gentleman, a humanitarian and loving grandad.

Once, when I was doing a secondary school project for history, I asked Derek about the war. Derek was a young boy when Coventry was bombed.

He told me of evacuations, of watching Lancaster Bombers roar overhead, of watching from a distance the eerie red glow of Coventry Cathedral and the city centre being burnt to the ground by Nazi bombs.

Derek saw the disunity of Europe. He saw his hometown bombed to the ground. He saw the Cathedral he was christened in destroyed.

Yet, like many, he forgave and, after the war, as a private individual and businessman he saw and felt the benefits of a Europe unified first in trade, then in purpose, to foster peace and prosperity.

This was a Europe built on hope.

When he came to retire, he and my grandmother used free movement to retire to France.

I will never forget the wonderful summers I spent there as child. Derek learnt the language and absorbed the culture.

He was proud to make France his home.

Derek benefitted like all of his generation from the unity, peace and prosperity that the European Union has brought to our continent.

Through his life he witnessed the unimaginable – warring enemies, split by tragedy and bloodshed, united in peace and working for a common purpose.

Nothing is perfect, and the EU is not perfect. Like any human endeavour, it has its flaws.

Derek and I used to debate those flaws – he was a man who inspired me to study and ask questions – but despite all of these flaws we would always conclude that it is better to work together for peace and prosperity, challenging ourselves to build a better Europe step-by-step, than live in disunity and at cross-purposes.

Derek is unjustly very ill from late stage cancer, recently diagnosed. In the last few weeks the one lesson I have learnt painfully is that we must take nothing for granted in this world. Most especially our loved ones.

Derek voted Remain in this referendum. He is unlikely to know the result on June 23rd but it is because of him that I campaign with passion to Remain in the EU.

I want to ask you to please take nothing for granted. Believe in a better Europe that we can build together. Make a positive choice for humanity, join me in voting Remain on June 23rd.