Gordon Brown makes keynote speech at the Leading not Leaving’ initiative Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Leading, not Leaving, Europe

When Britain holds its referendum on continued EU membership on June 23, it should demonstrate that its future lies in Europe. By embracing the reality that cooperation will achieve more than isolation, it can devise a bold agenda for the UK Presidency of the EU in 2017 and usher in an era of greater cross-border engagement.

EDINBURGH – Can the United Kingdom ever reconcile itself to being part of Europe? If recent British newspaper headlines about the June 23 referendum on continued European Union membership are any guide, the answer appears to be a decisive “no.”

Proponents of leaving the EU have campaigned on fear of runaway immigration and a cascade of purported dangers – whether delivered by boat or bomb – to the British way of life. Their opponents, who want the UK to remain part of Europe, highlight another fear: the loss of jobs that are dependent on European trade.

The nonstop sloganeering around these platforms has exposed conflicting worldviews. The rhetoric of the “Leave” supporters conjures up the spirit of Dunkirk in 1940 – a nation standing alone, impervious to invading armadas and armies, and always fiercely independent of Europe.

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