On Sunday 13 May, we held a community picnic to celebrate Europe Day. Over 70 pro-European St Albans residents, including many EU citizens and their families gathered in Verulamium Park. Similar events took place across the country, from Cornwall up to the North East.
Sharing Spanish tortilla, French onion tarts and German apple cake alongside all the usual goodies associated with a good British spread, picnickers highlighted the openness, tolerance and diversity in St Albans, where 63% voted in favour of the UK remaining in the EU in the June 2016 referendum.
Europe Day, held on 9 May every year, celebrates peace and unity in Europe and the start of co-operation by countries that had been at war just a few years previously. The date marks the anniversary of the “Schuman declaration” of 1950, when France and Germany forged an agreement to link their coal and steel industries and took the first steps towards making war between Europe's nations unthinkable.
While a happy event, our thoughts could not help but turn to the fact that, come Europe Day next year, if we have left the EU, as planned, in March 2019, we will no longer be in as close a relationship with our European friends and allies as we are today. At a time of geopolitical volatility, when nerve agents are being used on British soil by foreign powers, the idea of breaking close ties with our friends and neighbours seems a little rash to say the least. Who knows what Donald's next tweet might lead to?
So buoyed by the community spirit this lovely event created, we will be spending the rest of the summer campaigning hard for a People's Vote on the Brexit deal - we'll be holding Action Days in St Albans (next one coming up on Saturday 19th May) and the surrounding area and marching in London on 23 June for a People's Vote. There is so much at stake - jobs, funding, staffing and access to drugs for the NHS, employment and environmental protection, peace and security - we feel that the people should be able to vote on whether the Brexit deal is good enough for our country and our children's future. However you feel about Brexit, surely that's something we can all agree on.
Please join us - there's no time to lose!