Wrestling Over Europe With My Sons

MaddieWallaceWrestlingonEuropeAfter last week’s tough conversation with her two sons about consent and relationships, Pompey parent and writer Maddie Wallace raises the controversial issue of this week’s EU referendum.

I sat down with my sons this week and talked to them about Europe. Once we got past the bit where they thought I was talking about football, everything was a lot more complicated. Sami told me that his teacher wants to remain in Europe. This doesn’t surprise me as I can’t imagine any teacher siding with Michael Gove on anything after his attacks on the profession as Education Secretary. Zaki couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to stop other people coming to live here from other countries. He pointed out that loads of his friends come from other countries and he really likes them. I’m just pleased he has developed this view without being told he should have it.

9 and 10 year old boys are a lot like Europe. One of them wants to go out to the park and the other one wants to stay in and play the X Box. They are the referendum in a microcosm, neither able to understand the other’s point of view, both stubbornly clinging on to their rhetoric, both insisting they are right. If you try and make them understand the other side they refuse to listen. However, unlike the European Referendum, the argument can’t be solved by wrestling, most of the world isn’t pitching in on their daily battles with an opinion, and The Sun isn’t writing scathing editorials of their mother’s ability to function should they choose to stay in.

When it comes to my sons, I usually want them to go out. When it comes to Europe I’m firmly in. There are many reasons for this, one being that as a teacher who left the profession under Michael ‘The Nemesis’ Gove’s reign, I can’t bring myself to believe he’s right about anything anymore. I can’t help but feel that the arguments for leaving come from a place of short sighted and insular thinking, a place that will plunge the country into self righteous recession and financial destitution should we vote out on the 23rd.

If you’re in any doubt about that, look at the report by the International Monetary Fund as to what will probably happen should Britain leave the EU.

It’s also worth considering that world leaders from The US, all of Europe, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and Canada, all the leaders of the main UK political parties, all the living Prime Ministers of the UK from both parties, the Bank of England, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the TUC, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the World Bank (to name but a few) are all in the remain camp.

By contrast, do you really want to vote with Boris, Gove and that bloke from UKIP?

I’ve seen many arguments for and against this vote, and trying to explain the reasoning to my sons when all they want to do is wrestle each other has been hard. They understand that something momentous is underway, but not that they will be in the generation who suffers most because of a decision to leave. In less than a decade they could be entering a work force that is no longer protected by European laws, and they will potentially be living in a country that has discarded the European Convention of Human Rights. A vote to leave will turn my hair grey worrying about their future.

It’s ironic that as we gear up for this momentous vote, my sons are busy watching England play in a European tournament, a sporting event that already seen the mindless violence of the England fans making front page news around the globe. As the football supporters screamed about leaving the EU and stuck their fingers up at everything to do with Europe, they presumably failed to realise that travelling to the continent to throw chairs around will be much harder for them in the future should we vote to leave.