A vivid memory from my childhood is of sitting night after night in an air-raid shelter and in the morning seeing destruction and learning of loss of life.
It was an experience shared by millions of people right across Europe. Many more suffered the horror and anguish of finding that their homes and communities had become theatres of war. Of those who fled from the devastation, some even lost the right to return to what they had known as their birthplace and home.
The aspirations of those who, after the Second World War, worked to establish the Common Market that has developed into the present European Union were not merely for the benefits of mutual trade, but for a Europe of co-operation and solidarity in which another European war was impossible.
Among the many benefits we have gained from this union is 70 years of peace in Western Europe. This is a peace we cannot take for granted.
Understandably, every nation in the European Union will have its own concerns, issues, problems and aspirations. Together in the European Union we can work towards dealing with these sometimes apparently divergent interests in an environment of co-operation and solidarity.
The European Union is not ‘them and us’. It is all of us working together.
Justifications put forward in favour of leaving the European Union appear to me to appeal solely to our own particular self-interests. It is my hope that the result of the referendum will show a concern for the common good of us all in Europe.
Let’s value what we have achieved together, rather than be a trigger for a return to a fragmented Europe.