Part of this end-of-year message is to wish everyone a merry Christmas, happy holidays and great New Year. Sadly, as we look back at the events of 2016 with regret, or forward to 2017 with of a sense of foreboding, we may feel that there is ample ground for pessimism. However, we must now collectively show resolve and determination, demonstrate the courage of our convictions and stand up against the forces of insularity, intolerance and dogma that too-often characterised public debate in the western world during 2016.
Thanks to all of you and your support, courage and will, the forces of reason, balance and tolerance have not been consigned to the shadows. The voices of those opposed to the current direction of travel have not been quelled in the face of the constant drum beat of reality-denying narrow-mindedness. Our task now is to face down those who would have us believe that the votes of just over a third of the electorate in a referendum – particularly one lacking in any manifesto or detail – should irrevocably bind the fortunes of all our people.
As we continue our work we must continue to recognise the disquiet and concern of many who did vote for change – and patiently engage with them to understand and persuade them that the likely terms of leaving the EU will run counter to their own wishes and ultimately result in the exacerbation of their ills. But we must also deny also that a tiny minority of outlandish thinkers somehow have the self-appointed, undemocratic right to define exactly what that flawed referendum meant. The cold light of day must shine upon the reality of disengagement with Europe. Many Americans may lament Trump, but he will face re-election. A hard Brexit is a one-way ticket.
Nevertheless, as the year draws to its poignant end, we should reflect how many of us have stood in defence of the values of the modern world. Britain for Europe has stayed true to its founding principles, engaged with people across the country and tried to play our part in bringing renewed hope and organisation to our cause. At London’s City Hall as well as in Bristol and Birmingham we have come together – as we will again soon in Leeds – to debate and build a new future. We have reached out to fellow activists and created alliances and bonds with others.
Like any organisation built from scratch, fuelled by the enthusiasm of its activists, driven by individuals giving freely of their time and lacking the material clout of established campaigns, B4E has followed a bumpy but straight course. There are many people I could thank, some still involved, others having to turn their attention to jobs or other areas of their life, who have taken this enterprise to where it is today. You all know who you are.
We now look forward to working with our allies, including the European Movement and others, to continue to uphold a message of hope and determination that our future and the prosperity of our children will not be hijacked by a small number of fanatics.
All the team at Britain for Europe therefore wish you all a merry Christmas, a happy holidays and all the best for 2017. Remember that the pendulum of time will strip bare the falsehoods of the leavers. This will strengthen our hand as we face up to reality. We must neither lose hope, nor our determination.
2017 will be all about your and our actions, about campaigns and reaching out, about changing the mood music surrounding this debate. For long enough they taunted us with ‘Project Fear’. Now we strike back across the nation and on street corners with ‘Together our Future’. We are planning a number of events and campaigns early next year. We will hold this government to account. Together we can do this, alone we are but silent voices.