Audio for Sixteen Million Rising (Sept. 2017)


Please note that this audio is aired just after 2 hours 40 minutes into episode 12 of Sixteen Million Rising

Here is the text from which the above recording, which will form part of the Sixteen Million Rising “concert” in September, was made:


I had thought of talking about money – about the absurdity of paying perhaps 36 thousand million pounds – or about £2000 for every British family – to get out of the European Union. Once out, the Brexiteers then intend to beg the same EU for a trade deal that Mrs May claims will be as good as the one we have just left.  Air time on 16 Million Rising is too scarce to waste on such obvious lunacy!

Instead, I want to consider the threat to long term peace posed by Brexit.

Almost every British village, school and university college has its memorial, carved in stone or wood, listing those killed in the two world wars. We rightly honour them. But, when we look at the names, let us think of the huge waste of young lives, the pain felt by mothers, wives, siblings, friends when that telegram arrived – and then ask ourselves what we have done in our own lives to respect their sacrifice and that of all those others who faced but survived the horrors of long and devastating wars, often not just once but twice in their lifetimes.

My wife and I were wartime babies. Her father died just after the war when his ship was sunk by a lingering mine. My father fought with great bravery in both the essentially European wars that became global.

We are hugely grateful that, thanks to them and millions of their generation, we have enjoyed peace throughout our lives. For over 70 years, we have lived well and in safety. Our greatest hope is that our children and grandchildren will also pass their full lives in peace.

The great lesson from the past is that peace in Europe cannot be taken for granted – as it now seems to be. Let us never forget that the 1914-18 war, that led to the death of 9 million combatants and 6 million civilians, was sparked by the isolated assassination of an Austrian Archduke. Few of those who fought on either side and faced the daily loss of friends and the stench of death, rats and mud in the trenches probably knew why they were fighting.

We believe that by far the greatest achievement of the European Union is that it has nurtured and sustained peace in our region. We won’t try to place a monetary value on peace but it is mind-boggling, when you start to think that it has allowed over 500 million of us to go about our normal lives, day after day without fear, for decades.

Peace is essentially a consequence of mutual trust and confidence between nations and their peoples. The EU has nurtured peace by convening people, from students to prime ministers, from all its member nations to agree on common values and rights; to reflect these in legislation that applies to all member countries and to create institutions for settling disputes; to set up specialised agencies to define collectively agreed standards and ways of applying them across borders; to remove barriers to trade and the movement of people; to foster collaboration in security, information sharing and research; and to develop shared approaches to dealing with third countries when they pose threats to the region.

It is self-evident that collaboration between countries requires some yielding of national sovereignty for the achievement of the collective good.

Our concern is that the nationalist appeals of the Brexiteers to “take back control” by leaving the European Union will exclude British voices from all these processes of collective dialogue and decision-making that provide the glue that sustains peace.

About two years ago, Boris Johnson wrote of the EU that it was Churchill’s “idea to bring these countries together, to bind them so indissolubly that they could never go to war again – and who can deny that the idea has been a spectacular success?”

On this point, we agree fully with Boris but fail to understand how he and his cronies can now champion a Brexit that will not only damage the British economy and its prosperity but, more importantly, also undermine the integrity of the institutions that sustain the peace for which we owe so much to our parents’ generation.

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