I’m standing to be an MEP because I know the scars that bigotry leaves. The EU is still a force for good
European Elections 2019: meet the candidates in this month's fractious EU Parliament vote
I only joined the Liberal Democrats in August 2018. It was a decision made in the knowledge that it was the only party that had advocated to remain in the European Union and which was campaigning for a referendum on the terms of our potential departure.
For someone who’s been in the party for just eight months, I am honoured to have been selected for the list of MEP candidates. It is crucial that we do all we can to stop the impact of the Brexit Party.
As Tom Brake MP said in his letter to Remain MPs last November, “it is becoming starkly clear that there is no deal that is better than the deal we have as EU members”. And he continued: “It is now clear that almost every basis upon which Brexit was put to the UK electorate in 2016 was fundamentally wrong.”
In the recent council elections, whether it was Brexit backlash or Remain backlash, one thing was certain: the winners were the Liberal Democrats, the consistent Remain voice in the Brexit political chaos.
Our party made more than 500 gains and won control of 11 councils across the country, and it is clear that the Lib Dems’ commitment to remain in the EU and the fact that the British public feel deceived by the promises made by the Leave campaign, has heavily influenced voting.
The Lib Dems are the only mainstream party which has been resolutely opposed to Brexit from the start. It is a huge disappointment that Change UK rejected Vince Cable’s offer to work together in future elections. Together we would have been a stronger voice for Remain.
As a European citizen, I believe that the UK needs to have a strong voice within the EU, which is why I will always fight to remain. As a councillor and writer, I’ve campaigned hard for a Final Say referendum. I was the first councillor in Tower Hamlets to bring a “prepare for Brexit” motion, and have taken up our council’s Brexit Scrutiny Challenge, while campaigning for the rights of EU citizens who have made London their home.
My own family experiences of prejudice and injustice, both abroad and when starting a new life in London, have given me a strong sense of identity, and an intolerance of all forms of bigotry and injustice. Struggle leaves its mark and makes us all stronger.
The pioneers of the EU were a group of people from diverse backgrounds and professions who shared the same vision of creating a peaceful, united and prosperous Europe. Robert Schuman, lawyer and French foreign minister from 1948-1952, drew up the Schuman Declaration in 1950, which is regarded as the birth of the EU.
The initial aim was to create a European Coal and Steel Community to pool production and make war between rivals such as France and Germany impossible. He believed that the merging of economic interests would raise standards of living and would be a move towards a more united Europe.
The significance of the above ideals are just as important today. They prove that solidarity in terms of trade trade is fundamental to the maintenance of peaceful relations and economic stability.
The Brexit opposition parties − the Lib Dems, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Greens − put a joint statement out calling for a second referendum and yet we are all fielding MEP candidates across the country. The criticism is that Remain votes will be divided. And it is true that we could perhaps learn lessons from the founders of the EU in coming together to campaign to remain in the EU, fight to strengthen the UK’s position in EU financial markets, tackle climate change and uphold human rights.
All Remain candidates are important and they all have a part to play in stopping Brexit.
I’ve lived and worked here for most of my life; I am the daughter of a docker who lived and worked in the East End. Living here with my own family, I have experienced the change and transformation that the 21st century has brought to this global city that acts as a bridge from Europe to so many other parts of the world.
For the past three years our country has been consumed by Brexit, but so many people are now taking a stand. My daughter tweeted last week that (family obligations aside) she would be voting for the Lib Dems “because I want to live, work and retire anywhere in Europe. Why should my generation have to sacrifice opportunities and our future for Brexit?”
All Lib Dem candidates want the UK to be a world leader, not a follower. Our country deserves no less.
Rabina Khan is a Bangladeshi-born writer and politician. She is a councillor for Shadwell in Tower Hamlets