Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP: Dear British friends, we want you IN

As a big fan of “Yes, Prime Minister”, I find Sir Humphrey an endless source of funny quotes. But little did Humphrey know back in 1980, how topical his remarks would be in 2016:

Sir Humphrey: Minister, Britain has had the same foreign policy objective for at least the last five hundred years: to create a disunited Europe. In that cause we have fought with the Dutch against the Spanish, with the Germans against the French, with the French and Italians against the Germans, and with the French against the Germans and Italians. Divide and rule, you see. Why should we change now, when it’s worked so well?

So nothing new there, suffice to say the UK has always taken a slightly different view of the “European ideal”.

But as a Dutch liberal democrat, as a European, my message to the British people is clear: We want you IN, we need you IN.

Not because of some vague deal between a handful of government leaders, but because only with a strong, united Europe can we respond to the challenges of the 21st century. Inside or outside the EU, Britain will be confronted with cross-border challenges like refugees, terrorism, climate change or the energy crisis. Britain will be much better able to face those challenges as a member of the EU than alone.

As part of the EU, Britain will benefit more from the opportunities we are faced with in today’s globalised and interconnected world. Only together can we make the lives of our citizens better, as a powerful player in the world economy. Britain is amongst the top beneficiaries of EU funds for research and innovation, essential for remaining competitive in the global economy. Don’t throw it away.

The UK is an influential member of the EU. Brits have leading positions in the European Commission and the European Parliament. They have been very prominent in helping shape the European Union and its policies. As a Dutch liberal democrat I work closely together with my British friends, and more often than not, that alliance has been essential for achieving our goals in areas like free trade and competition, sustainability, innovation or civil liberties.

A Brexit would leave the UK out in the cold. There is nothing “splendid” about isolation. The UK will always rely heavily on its relations with the rest of Europe, whether it is in or out. Better to be part of those who are shaping the policies, than being on the outside. Sir Humphrey was wrong: divide and rule is not the best strategy. Being in the lead is.

Dear British friends, let’s prove Sir Humphrey wrong on June 23rd!

* Sophie in 't Veld has been an MEP for the Dutch liberal D66 party since 2004. Since 2014 she is also the first Vice-President of the ALDE group. She works on civil and human rights, privacy and economic affairs.

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30 Comments

  • Welcome Sophie – I have repeatedly posted this link hoping for a point-by-point rebuttal – perhaps you would be so kind: http://www.ukip.org/busting_the_eu_myths.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 1st Mar '16 - 1:23pm

    Sophie
    What a lovely article , that is very inspiring, really, just the sort of boost we need . The whole flavour of what you have said is warm and appreciative of us as a country, and aware of our political, and indeed,cultural history, because of your terrific references to Yes Prime Minister!

    Can we have more from you.I am a great one for greater closeness and understanding between our Liberal International friends.

  • ‘Britain is amongst the top beneficiaries of EU funds for research and innovation, essential for remaining competitive in the global economy.’

    This is emotional argument and a non-sequitur. We may be amongst the top beneficiaries but remember we are the second largest subscriber! Ergo use some of the money we will not be paying to the EU to fund the research and be just as competitive, or arguably, more competitive if we choose to spend more. The whole point is the choice would at least be ours to make.

    Many LDs, and this one in particular, are not anti Europe or anti European. Just anti EU bureaucracy. After 41 years we no longer believe the ‘Things can only get better’ line peddled by all colours of UK governments, when experience tells us that ever closer union is the intended aim of the EU – something many of us do not want. (The farce recently conducted by Cameron is irrelevant to the discussion.)

    We do want to be friends with you, trade with you, help you if we can but do not wish to be controlled by the EU.
    You we wish well, and indeed the EU, but seeing the direction it is travelling in, choose another way.

  • Hello Sophie,

    So your strong united EU is dealing with the migrant crisis is it, how did a united EU allow Germany to unilaterally open the EU borders, and then rolled over for Germany by trying to force the rest of the EU to clean up the mess they had created by taking migrants.

    Your strong united Eurozone certainly dealt with Greece, there is absolutely no doubt about that. You dealt with them in the best traditions of a totalitarian state, you dealt with them by grinding them into the dirt. Bravo!!

    You don’t need us, you need our money, you need us to stay in to balance the debate between the Anglo Saxon model of trade and open markets, and the European model of social government and protectionism. More than anything else you need us to stay in to prolong the false narrative that no country can leave and prosper.

    We never wanted to join your EU, we were sold it on a false prospectus, and now the British people are on the verge of wresting power back from the political establishment which ignored them for 40 years by voting to take us out.
    If you want to stay then good luck, if you want to be part of a Greater Germany effectively run by what the German chancellor decides, then good luck with that, although I think you will find your country is on the same path as the UK if polls are anything to go by, the Dutch are no longer enamoured by the EU project either.

  • @ Ron “We do want to be friends with you, trade with you, help you if we can but do not wish to be controlled by the EU.
    You we wish well, and indeed the EU, but seeing the direction it is travelling in, choose another way.” – how about writing an article for LDV? It is always pro-EU normally.

  • Richard Underhill 1st Mar '16 - 1:48pm

    Sophie in’t Veld Thank you for using ‘EU’ which can be distinguished from ‘Europe’.
    As part of their instructions against bias the BBC has been told to do the same.
    This is consistent with the advice given in “The Political Brain’ (foreword by Bill Clinton) not to allow opponents to dictate the use of language.
    And of course migrants enter the EU at Greece, leave the EU but remain in Europe before trying to re-enter the EU.
    I have mentioned this use of language to two MEPs, in the southeast, one Liberal Democrat and one Labour.

  • Raddiy
    I see you are again rewriting history with your line “we were sold a false prospectus”. The 1975 Referendum presented a choice, either a small group of freetrading nations (EFTA), or a treaty based group of nations, the EEC, which absolutely had a wider political project at its heart. If you were there, and voting, you clearly didn’t listen to much of the argument!

    Taking on board Sophie’s choice of “Yes Minister”, yes, civil servants were ALWAYS terrified about the political, from way back around 1960, when entry was first a possibility. The arguments of the Remain side still seem to centre around trade. But it was ALWAYS there, from the earliest days of the Coal and Steel Community, the thoughts of Jean Monnet and other founding thinkers. Were you there Raddiy?

    The political case for the EU is much the most powerful in an ever-shrinking, and ever more interdependent world. To believe that we can get by in that world with the occasional conversation with our neighbours has got to be misguided. Or perhaps you believe that rule by multinational corporations is a preferable form of internationalism to a genuine supranational politics and democracy?

  • ““There are some in this country who fear that in going into Europe we shall in some way sacrifice independence and sovereignty. These fears, I need hardly say, are completely unjustified.”” Edward Heath
    http://campaignforanindependentbritain.org.uk/britain-europe-bruges-group/

  • “1975 Referendum pamphlet” – http://www.harvard-digital.co.uk/euro/pamphlet.htm

  • “The only real concern of Mr Heath and his colleagues was that this plan should not be talked about too openly in public, because this might so inflame public opinion that it would be much harder to persuade Parliament and the British people that it was in their interests to join what they were being assured was no more than a ‘common market’, intended to boost trade.” intersting read – going through it at the moment – http://campaignforanindependentbritain.org.uk/britain-europe-bruges-group/

  • “What we now see, in short, is a European Union which has its own government, its own executive, parliament and supreme court; its own citizenship, passport, flag and anthem. It already has complete control over its own food resources, through the agricultural and fisheries policies. It is well on the way to having its own currency and economic policy and its own foreign and defence policies, backed by its own armed forces and the embryo of its own police force in Europol.” http://campaignforanindependentbritain.org.uk/britain-europe-bruges-group/

  • “If Britain is finally to be absorbed into this new country we are allowed to call anything but a“superstate”, there is one crucial act of surrender we still have to make: that of our currency. Because the one thing without which a nation cannot be considered a nation is its money. So long as Britain fails to join the euro, it can never be fully part of this new nation with which in almost every other respect she is now so comprehensively enmeshed.” http://campaignforanindependentbritain.org.uk/britain-europe-bruges-group/

  • (sorry, wrong thread before)
    “This country quite voluntarily surrendered the once seemingly immortal concept of the sovereignty of parliament and legislative freedom by membership of the European Union … as a once sovereign power, we have said we want to be bound by Community law.

    Judge Bruce Morgan, judgement in Sunderland metrication case April 9, 2001”

    http://campaignforanindependentbritain.org.uk/britain-europe-bruges-group/

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Mar '16 - 5:42pm

    I always appreciate continental Europeans communicating with us, so thanks for writing.

    I agree, we are better together, but I might move to Europe one day, so it is easier for me to say so. But I don’t think movement for skilled workers will cease if we leave the EU. So leaving isn’t a big worry for me that way, I just think it will damage relations with nearly all our best allies and I can’t see the big benefit that would make it worthwhile.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/24/indian-business-leaders-speak-out-against-brexit

  • @Joe Otten – please note that it was not something like to Labour’s mainfesto, as a paid Labour staff member, etc. – I was slightly concerned that I was posting too many links and will bear it in mind – actually, I just found that page very interesting – that was all.

  • @Joe Otten P.S. Normally people say “peace out” – what should I say here “Lib out”?

  • (“memo to self” – try not to post stupid comments)

  • Simon Horner 1st Mar '16 - 7:28pm

    I am tired of hearing anti-EU people say that we were somehow conned into joining the EC. The sceptics have successfully rewritten the history on this issue. I am old enough to remember the 1975 referendum campaign. While it is quite true that Yes campaigners tried to downplay the commitment to “ever closer union” to maximise their vote, the “No” side raised this issue time and again. They rightly pointed out that this commitment was in the very first line of the Treaty. Anyone who was half-listening could hardly have missed it!

    It seems clear to me that, in the meantime, Britain has changed its mind on ever-closer union. But it is rather pathetic to insult the intelligence of the 1975 electorate in order to avoid admitting this.

  • Steve Comer 1st Mar '16 - 9:20pm

    Simon: You are right, I am one of a diminishing percentage of the electorate that campaigned for the ‘Yes’ side in 1975. The trouble is we won the vote, but didn’t keep the argument going, and we were warned. ON the day of the result Enoch Powell said the ‘no’ side would not give up and would keep fighting to get Britain out of the European Community.

    Ever since 1975 the pro-EC/EU side has let the ‘antis’ make the running and adopted a don’t frighten the horses’ mentality towards the electorate. Our press has never covered European issues unless its about summits, crises, or inaccurate stories about bent bananas and the like.

    Far more UK citizens work in other European countries than did in 1975, and a far higher percentage of the population has visited another member state, yet somehow we’ve let these myths take route, and many people are ignorant of what the Eu does and doesn’t do.
    Its true that many people like Phillip are so obsessed with the anti-EU cause that they resort to multiple cut & paste ‘spam’ postings. When I see these I am minded of Dr Goebell’s famous words “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it,” but I’m concerned that these views are not being rebutted with the facts.

  • Steve Comer 1st Mar '16 - 9:23pm

    For an alternative view of Britain’s attitude to the EU I would recommend this article by commentator Gwynne Dyer:
    http://cyprus-mail.com/2016/02/28/petulance-the-english-way/

  • Sophie, I agree “as part of the EU, Britain will benefit more from the opportunities we are faced with in today’s globalised and interconnected world. Only together can we make the lives of our citizens better, as a powerful player in the world economy. Britain is amongst the top beneficiaries of EU funds for research and innovation, essential for remaining competitive in the global economy. Don’t throw it away.” Well said, I intend to campaign for the UK to keep the benefits of leading in the EU.

  • @Steve Comer
    “Its true that many people like Phillip are so obsessed with the anti-EU cause that they resort to multiple cut & paste ‘spam’ postings. When I see these I am minded of Dr Goebell’s famous words “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it,” but I’m concerned that these views are not being rebutted with the facts.”

    I call you out.

    Directly respond with the “facts” you claim to have to rebut your claim of “spam posts” above (without you using waffle/obfustication/red herrings) – otherwise do us all a favour and be quiet.

  • @Michael Beckett

    “Britain is amongst the top beneficiaries of EU funds for research and innovation, essential for remaining competitive in the global economy.”

    The UK is a net financial contributor to the EU – surely it is “our funds” that are being given “partially” back to the UK?

  • Christopher Haigh 2nd Mar '16 - 3:27pm

    @John Marriott-for remain it would be great if we could develop sports in other member states such as cricket, rugby league and rugby union, and also expand the brass band movement to them as well.

  • Peter Hayes 2nd Mar '16 - 5:23pm

    Science and disadvantaged regions get money from the EU. Do you think these would be a priority for a Conservative Westminster government?

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