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Let Us Choose to Be Great, Not Little, Britain

25/05/2016 08:13 | Updated 25 May 2016

Seventy years on from the conflict which forever changed Europe, we face a choice between two futures for our role within it. The impact of our decision will be profound and permanent for our economy and our security.

That is why I am making the patriotic case to secure our national interest in a changing world. By choosing to lead, not leave.

Serving in the Balkans taught me something about the fragility of peace in Europe. I witnessed the importance of Nato at the side of General Mike Jackson as he led Alliance forces in Kosovo. That challenging time taught me the value and the importance of the team. Of standing with your neighbours and allies, to work in partnership with others to achieve a common goal.

We should be in no doubt that being part of the EU is both a strategic and an economic asset to Britain. From counter-terrorism to intelligence sharing and diplomacy, cooperation with Europe still provides Britain additional influence to further our interests in a changing world.

As the US pivots towards Asia, the G7 expands to the G20, and international institutions face pressure to reform, the status quo will not be an option. That is why I believe that having Britain as a team member of both Nato and the EU makes both institutions stronger.

Enhancing our national security and keeping our people safer. So it is precisely because we put Britain's national interest first that we make the hard-headed case to remain.

Our future is linked historically, geographically, unavoidably, to that of Europe. Threats and opportunities will not stop for us, and we cannot simply opt-out from the world. So let us not compromise our influence to shape that shared future. Because just as threats to our security are spread and shared in today's world, so too must be the solutions.

That is why the EU is a necessary partner to Nato for Britain. Through combining all areas of security policy, the EU provides additional capacity for action. This enables what is often called hard power to be paired with soft power. Through its economic influence, the EU can shape behaviour following a carrot and stick approach. Pairing the threat of sanctions alongside the prize of trade access to the world's largest single market.

This collective influence we project as part of the EU delivers real results. It allows Britain to lead international action as we did to secure an EU oil embargo against Iran. This was an important precursor to the EU3+3 negotiations which ultimately delivered the landmark agreement curtailing Iran's nuclear programme last year.

The EU also bolsters our domestic security. From Peshawar to Paris, too often we have been reminded that terrorist networks pay no attention to lines on a map. It is only through the EU that we can use a networked approach to both reduce our vulnerabilities and attack the terrorist organisations themselves. Acting not through isolationism but through partnership. As the US General Stanley McChrystal rightly argues "it takes a network to defeat a network."

We remember the summer of 2005, when Hussain Osman unsuccessfully attempted to follow the terrorist attacks a fortnight earlier by placing a bomb at Shepherds Bush Tube Station. It was because of the European Arrest Warrant, and co-operation with our EU allies, that Osman was arrested in an apartment in Rome. Today, Osman is serving life in prison because of an EU wide legal framework which ensures evidence is gathered so that it is admissible in British courtrooms.

So the choice we face is between greater security and global influence as part of the EU, or a period of prolonged uncertainty and permanent retrenchment by walking away. For the Leave campaign to assert that both everything will change, but nothing will change is not simply a contradiction. It fails our collective duty to serve the national interest.

That is why the patriotic choice is for a Britain that continues to lead in the world by leading in Europe. To do otherwise would not only limit the opportunities of our children and grandchildren, but their ability to meet the challenges of tomorrow. So this is the moment to decide whether we want to be great or little Britain.

I firmly believe that the strength, stability and security brought by our membership of the EU is the only responsible choice. So with pride and confidence in Britain, we must vote to remain on 23 June.

Dan Jarvis is the Labour MP for Barnsley Central and a former major in the Parachute Regiment

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