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Your chance to say why the EU is important to you: an appeal for personal stories

August 3, 2018 12:10 PM

We are planning to distribute within this area a cross-party leaflet made up of short contributions from local people, outlining why the EU matters to them personally. The leaflet will be printed and distributed by the Newark and Sherwood Liberal Democrats but will not carry any other Lib Dem party branding as we want to encourage people from all political parties, or none, to have their say.

We are very much hoping you might write a short contribution prior to our firm deadline of 16th September, and preferably by end August. If so, please contact our lead editors Andrew Chadwick and Gill Wright as soon as possible (email addresses below). Around 200-300 words from each writer will suffice, based on contributors' own experiences and on balance supporting the argument for remaining in the EU. How has EU membership made a difference to you and your family? As far as possible we are aiming to focus on positives so, where you might be expressing worries about Brexit, please be concrete and clear on how this matters to you personally. (Party politics should be avoided.)

Editing will be solely for clarity and length. We would get back to you before publication on any questions or substantial changes. Individual contributors will not be named but we intend to attribute each item to e.g. 'Secondary school teacher', 'Farmer', Retired engineer'. Please therefore let us know how to describe you. Any possible reuse of material you provide would be in the pro-European cause only, and absolutely not for any narrower political or commercial purposes.

While views on the EU are still finely balanced nationally, many in the Lib Dems, and indeed supporters of other parties, are increasingly alarmed at the way that Brexit is going. We are defying the expectations of Leave leaders such as Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage who appear to have assumed that, after the demise of the official 'Stronger In' campaign, people who cared about being Europeans would simply shut up or leave the UK. But we 'Remainiacs', as some might call us, form a growing grass roots, cross-party movement, pushing for another chance to vote when we see the nature of the Government's proposed Deal - assuming that they even get to one.

There were so many problems with the 2016 Referendum. It is clear that pro-Brexit organisers had no agreement on what form leaving the EU might actually take. It is also clear that Brexit, and the form of any Brexit, would affect everybody: local businesses, farming, funding of public services, prices in the shops, tax and council rates, holiday costs, ease of travel and the Government funds available to pay state pensions.

We'd be most grateful to hear very soon if you plan to write something for our leaflet, and by what date you'll send it. Your contribution should then be emailed, preferably before end August, to:


Thank you in anticipation of your help on this.

Examples of 'personal stories' we've already received

PhD Zoology student

As a PhD student working within a UK university, the decision to leave the European Union has surprised me for a number of reasons. Specifically relating to my work, a large amount of research funding comes from a European body called the European Research Council. ERC - the first pan-European funding body for frontier research - was set up in 2007 under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7, 2007-2013). It aims to enhance the dynamic character, creativity and excellence of European research at the frontiers of knowledge. You can Google it!

The ERC is now part of the first pillar - 'Excellent Science' - of Horizon 2020, the new EU Programme for Research and Innovation. This body has already contributed millions of pounds worth of research money to British research across different disciplines, which has helped the UK maintain its strong research standing and global educational reputation.

My Prof and his department are beneficiaries of this funding that could no longer be available from the day that the UK leaves the EU - even some grants which are used only in part by UK-based researchers. I fear this will surely lead to researchers and companies, previously supported by the EU, being inclined to leave. To me, this is bizarre as usually countries strive to retain their educated and highly trained population, not push their skills abroad. Science thrives on collaboration which is made easier by joint funding and easy connections between countries.

Being a part of the EU has allowed me to live in such a stimulating multi-cultural environment. Free movement throughout the EU means that young people can easily relocate to study abroad in the knowledge that it will be easy for them to return home to see their families. These young people include doctors, scientists, academics who fight for social change, human rights lawyers and others. Many are European citizens who have trained in the UK for several years and who I value as my friends. Following the 2016 Referendum, I have had conversations with peers who now, for a multitude of reasons including hardened attitudes among some towards 'foreigners', no longer feel comfortable to remain within Britain for the extent of their careers. I fear that this will not only make Britain a less desirable destination for European and other foreign students, but it could also mean that British students will see less diversity in language and culture, not to mention increased difficulty in travelling easily themselves.

Retired entrepreneur

The EU laws and directives concerning workers' rights have ensured 28 days of paid leave and a limit on working hours for over 26 million employees. In addition, around eight million part-time workers have equal rights with full-time colleagues; and guaranteed maternity leave rights are used by 340,000 women every year. I believe this a very important aspect of the work the EU does for its member countries.

I am certain that if we don't care for planet Earth miles better than we do now, then we won't have a habitable planet left; and I'm glad that this a major concern addressed by the EU. In 1967, it started its policy for the protection of the environment. A procedure for the labelling of dangerous chemicals was adopted. In 1973 the First Environmental Action Programme came into being.

The open borders policy of the EU means that many millions of citizens in EU countries have the freedom to travel to another EU country without having to show passports. Friends of ours who live now in France not only value this but also their thriving Anglo French Association; and the reciprocal health benefits which such expats could stand to lose.

My daughter works for an E. Midlands multinational which has received benefits from the EU. Thisenterprise has benefited from a lot of grants and loans over many years, and this has helped the management to launch several projects. Many other similar companies have benefited in the same way. EU funding is also available for non-profit organisations because they cover lots of different areas of concern which are not covered by the individual governments of the EU countries. I don't think many people in the general public realise this.

These are just a very small selection of the many benefits that the UK has enjoyed by being a member of the EU and which we'd lose if Brexit became a reality.