They say true love encompasses warts and all: you fall for the flaws and imperfections, the cracks, as much as the beauty, the artwork, the crafted joy of that special someone. They're annoying, they push your buttons, their words cut deeper than sticks and stones.
I graduated with a degree in Politics last year and despite all I've learnt of abuses of power, the injustices and imperialism that characterise this country's path to this moment, I cannot escape it - I love this country.
It's not one of those fashionable things to say, especially in a Sussex University seminar room or the gladiatorial arena of social media.
I am grateful for every opportunity this country has bestowed, for the heavy lifting, self sacrifice and cooperation of working men and women in our history that defines the character of our commonwealth today. Rowdy and creative - this country still has plenty of fuel in the tank.
The time has come to settle old scores, look our nation in the eye and define ourselves for generations to come. I want a better version of Britain. I want a Britain that thrives: our interests served, our standards of living preserved - for all its failures, cooperation within the framework of the European Union is the best answer to this quandary.
At Our Best
At our best, we are the team player, roll-your-sleeves-up, make-the-change nation. We have never, and will never be an isolationist country, grumbling by the exit door of modernity.
In excess and hubris, this nation used brawn and might to build two empires. Today, we use brains and sheer bloody argument to build innovative networks to exchange ideas. We contribute so much to culture, business, education. We extend the hand of partnership in everything we do. We are the collaboration nation; we are not quitters.
At our best, modern Britain is a smooth (European imported) latte, the cultural bitterness of our imperial decline for the most part offset by the silky cream and sweet sweet sugar, the benefits of multiculturalism and an open society can bring.
Challenges remain - only an idiot would deny that globalisation is not reshaping this island and its identity but as in life, you have to ride the change - or let the change ride you. Be bold, be confident and self-assured. Embrace our history, as chequered as any nation and lead the charge against the challenges of the day - climate change, the migration crisis, keeping big business in check - and yes, removing roaming charges from mobile contracts (that millennial woe) - are best addressed in unison, from within the European Union.
In the run up to this referendum, I was determined to keep an open mind: not to slip into the millennial mind-set presuming that membership was beneficial for us all. I have flirted with the idea of leaving, recasting alliances with the 'Anglo-sphere'. However, whilst this fairy-tale is reassuring, a Brexit would be selfish and achieve few of the aims of those concerned about our current trajectory. We would be cutting off our nose to spite our face. If I am wrong, if you do not believe in the British mission of change, call another referendum in a couple of years. But if we leave now, there is no going back: job losses, investment down, solidarity undermined. Nominal 'sovereignty' achieved, but in reality still at the whim of Brussels bureaucrats. Is it really worth it? For Britain, we have to be in it to win it.
I do believe Britain could survive, go it alone and wander into the wilderness, fend for itself and get by. My ambition for this nation is not to merely 'survive'. I want a Britain that will thrive and grow, engage and lead. Britain should be the change-maker we have been at our best. We must stay true to the promises made to working men and women of time gone by - the promises of peace, prosperity and the freedom to pursue our dreams. Definitions of 'great' vary - but you could say, I want to make Britain great again.
I was brought up on stories from relatives and neighbours of world war triumph - the Leave campaign are fundamentally misreading our history. Britain does not leave her friends and allies behind to rot in hours of darkness. The arena may have changed, but pragmatism and comradeship remains vital to our collective success in the modern age. CVs and resumes up and down the land profess examples of being a 'team-player'. Now is the time to stand up and put the money where our mouth is. Let's show the world we are still the team-player nation, that we accept the premise of give and take, that we can be the independent and distinctive voice in the crowded room: that we can lead and stay true to ourselves.
Compassionate and creative - connected and open-hearted. This is the land we fight for today, and what's on the ballot paper in this referendum.
What happened to this country? What happened to our self belief? Europe is flawed - who better to shake it up and make it work than the Brits? Britain, the land of make do and mend must embark on her biggest project to date. We must build a coalition for change across this continent. We must not retreat to a lonely island of little influence. In doing so, we stay true to those who have lost their lives in the name of a brighter future.
Voting to leave undermines every sacrifice that has seen this nation endure and prosper; every achievement of our story tossed aside, replacing it with a vision of a mediocre, divided island, a fiefdom of big business - elites unrestrained, unthreatened.
In this cynical age, I still buy into the narrative of a Britain better than the one we see, the poetry of this Albion nation - the beauty of the things we can achieve if we just believe and work together.
BRITAIN AT HER BEST
We engage, we innovate, we build coalitions for change - we lead.
This is the Britain I am voting for on June 23rd.
As a British patriot and progressive, I urge you to vote to REMAIN too.
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