I look back on our past year with shame, I look to the year ahead with anxiety and concern.
I served as a London police officer retiring at the age of 49, the rank of inspector and a decent pension. I learned a lot, particularly the power of communities to do good. The need to protect and support the vulnerable in society. I saw the UK as a truly multicultural vibrant place.
My wife and I bought a cottage in Pelion, Greece. This was an easy step because we were EU citizens with all the rights that entails. We also had the great benefit of moving freely between our homes in the UK and Greece.
We have become deeply involved in community work and voluntary activity in Greece, we pay taxes in both countries and so have always regarded our selves as British and European citizens in equal measure.
All of this was shattered by Brexit. Since that day in 2016, I have become an increasingly determined campaigner to limit the damage that Brexit has caused. Spending much of my time abroad I look back at the UK with eyes of a foreigner. When at our home near Chichester I find I no longer recognise the UK as a place where I belong and have secure roots. I have become a citizen of nowhere.
I have voted Conservative many times in my life, I have voted Lib Dem, I often have great sympathy with Labour, Greens etc even if I have never voted for them.
I have never felt the need to campaign as I do now. I have never been inclined to accept the result of the 2016 referendum. It was a badly run process, with a government who supported EU membership forcing a vote on us for their own political advantage. I could see on a grand scale how anti EU feeling was stirred up with the most outrageous lies and false promises, this applied to both sides of the campaign. The referendum lacked integrity and honesty.
I know there will be a hardcore of supporters for leave and remain who feel certain in their views and will campaign forevermore. I have also met many leave voters who deeply regret their decision. They can now see our future that in no way resembles the promises of the 2016 leave campaign.
This is not about me, this is about millions of others, EU citizens working here as valuable workers and taxpayers to the UK’s daily life. It is about the millions of UK citizens in the EU. It is about families of mixed nationality, all forced to live in doubt and anxiety about their futures. It really is intolerable.
I do believe the disaster of Brexit will be sorted out by our Parliamentary process. However, I cannot believe the current actions of our Government. Theresa May has made a futile appeal to the EU to alter the Irish backstop and make it time limited. It is obvious this can never be done and every option on the way forward that involves leaving with no deal will destroy the Good Friday agreement. I have been at enough bomb scenes and can remember the years of the Irish troubles to know we can never allow the peace in Ireland to be compromised.
There remains a strong likelihood of Parliament rejecting the Withdrawal Agreement. The best and really only option will be another referendumthat offers to leave the EU on the terms negotiated by the Government, or to remain in the EU on the terms that exist today. Such a referendum will be a democratic conclusion to unlock the deadlock of parliament. Common sense sound judgement and integrity will prevail I am sure. It is after all the British way.
Christopher Wicks, Funtington