Andrew Mitchell, the founding member of RHUL’s European Students Society, talks about the continued campaign to defend the rights of EU citizens in the UK.
The outcome of the vote on the 23 June was unexpected but far from shocking; successive governments have failed to champion the European project, and there has been consistent use of the European Union as a scapegoat for failures of government at home. This message of blame was the foundation upon which support for leaving the European Union was built on; and it is this scepticism about Europe and the benefits we have being a member of the European Union.
It is now up to both British and European internationalists to fight for a Brexit that is as least damaging as possible. We must fight for the rights of EU citizens in the UK, including students, who are being used as bargaining chips in the negotiations. We must fight against the tide of hate crime that has been legitimised by national campaigns run during the referendum, and ultimately, we must continue to campaign for effective, mutually beneficial European co-operation that can help tackle the biggest issues we face today, such as international tax avoidance, climate change and migration.
It is for this reason that I believe it to be important that Royal Holloway, a University that prides itself on its international outlook, has a specific society that campaigns on these issues. Students, and Young People voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union; these beliefs do not stop at the referendum ballot box, as much as party allegiances and stances do not become defunct the day after a General Election. We cannot let the government negotiations, led by Boris Johnson, who said during the referendum campaign that Obama had an ‘ancestral dislike’ for Britain because of his ‘part-Kenyan’ heritage, and David Davies, who described the £350million-a-week NHS funding lie as ‘unimportant,’ to have free rein over the future of this country.
The European Students Society will campaign locally to make sure EU and International students feel welcome in an increasingly tense social environment, and nationally, for the retention of freedom of movement, and the membership of the single market that is so imperative for the economic stability of this country. We look forward to working with organisations locally, nationally and internationally, to campaign for a positive, outward looking country post-Brexit; in the long term, this society hopes to campaign to continue the European co-operation that has so enriched this country’s culture. For now, it is the word on everyone’s lips that draws our focus: Brexit.