Being French, I certainly qualify as a European. I also happen to have lived in Britain for the last 30 or 40 years. So I would think that the referendum called by David Cameron concerns me. Yet I am not entitled to take part, something I find rather upsetting. At least, nobody is forbidding me to share my opinion about this unnecessary referendum. And here it is.
I wonder whether Cameron now wonders what the hell got to him. Yes, we know, he wanted to prevent his party from spliting about the question of Europe. Brilliant! All he has managed to do is to split his country and by the same token, to give voice to the extreme right, well represented by Nigel Farage and similar European parties such as the French National Front. Its leader, Marine Le Pen is even offering her views to the British people in a brochure that found its way to my door as, apparently, it is being distributed to every home in Britain and I must say, is better presented and a lot more to the point than the glossy brochure recently offered by the government. One more wobble, Mr Cameron!
You may have guessed: I am not in favour of Britain leaving the EU but I fear this may well happen. And when I say I fear, I mean it. I can’t help thinking that leaving Europe would be disastrous – as, by the way, the whole world is telling Britain. I am afraid the idea of leaving rests on nostalgia, nostalgia for an England now long gone, with its comfortable feeling of superiority the Empire perhaps justified … many years ago. But the Empire is no more.
Willingly or not, we live in a global world, and pretending that, by itself, Britain will be able to fight terrorism, ignore the current historical movements of population, face climate change and at the same time once again, conquer the world – for, I believe, this is the dream behind all the rhethoric – is nothing but an illusion – or a clever lie. Today Britain doesn’t need to conquer the world; it needs to work with it in harmony. Dreaming of the past has never brought the past back, it only hides reality. At our peril.
As for the problems caused by immigration, many years ago, before Britain became a member of the European Community, I happened to be in Birmingham. To my amazement, it was as if I had travelled miles away. I was not in Britain anymore but somewhere in Bangladesh: all around were women dressed in colourful saris, men with white caps on their heads, stalls offering vegetables I had never seen before. Among all this, an old English lady looked lost. She had lived here all her life but she didn’t recognise the world she lived in and I felt sorry for her.
Immigration is something the whole world has to face right now. Isolating itself won’t help Britain and it certainly won’t solve a problem which is global and involved the whole planet.