June 23rd 2016 will go down as a day of destiny for the British people.
At the polling booths next Thursday, we will cast our vote as to our future relationship with the European Union.
And very careful thought is required before marking the ballot paper with that all important cross. It is likely to be a once in a lifetime opportunity to act in the best interests of future generations. On this occasion - as no other - surely the head must rule rather than the heart.
For those like myself of riper years, one could easily look back to the days of one’s childhood - to the dark days of the War and the years of austerity that followed. In spite of the hardship, life was much simpler in those days. My boyhood wartime heroes were all stoic individuals of the silver screen - Kenneth More playing fighter ace, Douglas Bader; the clipped patriotic speech of Noel Coward as the Captain of HMS Torin in that classic, ‘In Which We Serve’. Or David Niven leading his squaddies into battle in ‘The Way Ahead’.
And I’m sure we would have never won the War without the unstinting help of John Mills and Richard Attenborough. Both actors who epitomised the cool, understated courage of the average Brit.
In those post-war years, one could be proud to be British - without any need for apology or reservation. We had defeated Nazi Germany and fought bravely in the jungles of Burma - against a brutal enemy. Victory was ours and we could look forward to a new Elizabethan Age.
But in spite of winning the World Cup in 1966, we had lost our way economically. We became increasingly unsure of our position in a fast changing world. Having lost an Empire - where did our future lie? Meanwhile, France and West Germany had put their bitter quarrels behind them and formed an economic union - while we looked on with a slight air of superiority - while our coal and heavy industries were overtaken and iconic British brands of cars, motor-bikes and trucks disappeared without trace.
But on January 1st 1973 - having been rebuffed once - the Union Jack was finally hoisted above the HQ building of the European Economic Community which had accepted us as a fully fledged member.
There was dancing in the streets of Brussels throughout that night! At long last, we had found a niche - courtesy of the then Prime Minister, The Rt Hon Edward Heath. An air of optimism prevailed - but would it all be sweetness and light from then on?
During the ensuing forty-plus years, what was founded as a symbol of economic co-operation has changed beyond all recognition to become a political union embracing an increasing number of new states - with the promise of more to come.
Will our voice at the top table of the EU be as strong as it once was also will we retain our seat at the Security Council of the UN? Most importantly, do we wish to become part of a federal United States of Europe? Above all, can we as a country sustain the present level of EU immigration - or has the time come to take our leave?
These are the questions that will be uppermost in the minds of electors within the confines of the voting booth next Thursday. And we all have just a week to re-consider how we shall cast our vote. Will it be ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’ - that is the question only each and every individual can answer. For those interested in our future, it will be interesting to wake up on June 24th!
Robert B. Worley
Bourns Court, Ayshe Court Drive, Horsham
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