Down the rabbit hole
Today the United Kingdom formally serves notice of its intention to leave the European Union. A decision that will be celebrated by the 52% of Britons who voted for Brexit, it is a decision that nonetheless leaves us at WQW cold.
WQW could not exist without EU freedom of movement. The excitement for us of taking a leap of faith and launching a new business in 2016 is now tempered by the knowledge that two of the founding principals of WQW, EU nationals of Member States outside the United Kingdom, face uncertainty as to their future in Britain after Brexit. Despite having been in this country and paid taxes here for a combined total of more than 40 years, and having placed faith in the liberal values of a country that provided us with opportunity in return for hard work.
Many of those who support Brexit talk of a return to Britain's role as a 'great trading nation', ignoring the inconvenient fact that ‘trade’ between Britain and nation states within the British Empire was hardly a meeting of equals. Nostalgia for Empire has undoubtedly played a significant role in the Brexit debate. But let’s not forget why Britain made the decision to embark on the European project. As the then Prime Minister Edward Heath put it in 1972, “I am not thinking today of the Age of Imperialism, now past: but of the lasting and creative effects of the spread of language and of culture, of commerce and of administration by people from Europe across land and sea to the other continents of the world. These are the essential ties which today bind Europe in friendship with the rest of mankind. […] An end to divisions which have stricken Europe for centuries. A beginning of another stage in the construction of a new and greater Europe. This is the task for our generation in Europe.”
With those words ringing as the button is pressed on Article 50, there is not a non-British EU citizen in the UK who will feel more welcome in the UK as a result of today's developments and, indeed, many of us now feel persona non grata, useful only as bargaining chips to be deployed in an attempt to shore up the position of British nationals residing elsewhere in the EU.
We at WQW hold firm to the ideals of the European Union and, in particular, the notion that in the interests of peace and prosperity, nation states should come together and allow the free movement of people, goods and capital over borders, for the greater good of all. We will continue to hold fast to our belief in these principles. And for those who might criticise lawyers for having the temerity to hold opinions and express them freely, who describe judges as “enemies of the people”, we say this, the demise of liberalism throughout history has rarely had a happy ending, it is the duty of us all to make our voices heard. We shall gladly rage, rage against the dying of the light.
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