Parting is (or will be) such sweet sorrow. That’s if you believe UKIP and the ‘out’ campaign at least.
By the time we get to scrawl our mark on the EU referendum ballot paper we’ll all be debate weary and will just be glad to move on, I suspect.
As the Brexit battle lines are drawn much of what will be argued will be economic. But whether you believe Europe needs us more than we need Europe, or visa versa, leaving the EU represents a step backwards. Nationalism, arguable the most divisive and potentially destructive political mindset of all, will have prevailed. Whatever the economic pros and cons the idea, for some of us the high ideal, of a united world will have moved further into the distance.
One consequence of a Britain/EU divorce will certainly be increasing pressure for Scottish independence. Bearing in mind the SNP’s dominance of the political agenda north of the border, a second independence referendum is an odds on certainty.
In many respects Nicola Sturgeon is as progressive a politician as we have but when the progressives among us see their interests best served by a nationalist agenda then internationalism, that dream of a united humanity, remains just that, a dream rather than a waking reality.
Both sides in the Brexit bunfight are talking reform. No one seems happy with the EU status quo. Lack of democratic accountability, unwieldy bureaucracy, over centralisation. These are all fair criticisms but no one is arguing the symbolism of a united Europe anymore. An ever closer union is seen as a threat rather than a settling of differences. Open borders as damaging to co-operation rather than a strengthening of it. The sovereign state trumps the unity of states. We seem unable to reconcile the diversity of cultures with equality across cultures which will surely be a prerequisite for a sustainable human presence on this planet.
The European Union represents a deep desire in all of us for peace and understanding after millennia of conflict. Yes, it’s been an experiment but as yet not a failed one. It’s a case of keeping our eyes on the prize. That prize is a peaceful, just and equal world, not just a united Europe. If change is needed then let’s agree to work towards that change, not simply turn our backs on an institution which could help secure a viable future not only for us but foreseeable generations.