I am European to the core, more than I have ever called myself British. I started learning French at 4, moved to Brussels at 19 and later Spain. In all, I lived a total of 16 years in EU countries. I now speak fluent French and Dutch, fluent but rusty Spanish, fairly intermediate German and some holiday Italian, even a few words of Polish and Turkish. I have friends and networking acquaintances in various countries.
My 18 year old son who planned to work at the EU Commission as I did, then hopefully become a MEP, feels he has lost his identity. He is fluent in Dutch, has studied Spanish and Latin to Higher Level of the International Baccalaureate rather than A Levels, holds grade A* GCSE’s in Italian and French and studied Mandarin, Russian and a little Greek. Not your average English boy. He is about to start his degree course in International Relations and Sustainability with a year abroad in an EU university – if he is allowed to.
If Brexit succeeds and is the start of extreme right governments taking over here and succeeding in other EU countries, leading to the eventual break-up of the European Union, then I no longer want to call myself British. We will be hated. We will be spat at in the streets when we go on holiday. British workers abroad will start to receive hateful messages just as EU migrants have been the recipients of disgraceful racism over the last few days.
We have to fight for Europe. It is not time to shut up and move on gracefully. It is time to get really angry. Our forefathers fought for Europe. Our children need us to now.