Editorial: EU debate, time for a new politics?

As the referendum on whether or not Britain should stay in the European Union nears, campaigning is becoming more hysterical. It would be tempting to tune out, to turn away from the men in suits telling us what’s best or the men in suits sanctioning dangerous fears of the other. But don’t turn away just yet; this week Lacuna publishes two different articles, each offering a sober reflection of Britain’s role within the EU. There is a discussion to be had about Britain’s role in or out of Europe and the possibilities for change after 23rd June.

Ben Farrand presents a useful guide to both the Leave and Remain campaigns; questioning the balance each strikes between impassioned pleas and rational, statistic heavy arguments. The official Leave campaign dreams of a ‘better’ Britain, but has little to say on what this Britain might look like. So too the Remain campaign appears to lack any radical or reforming vision for a future where Britain stays in the EU. And in a way the entire Brexit debate exposes the general lack of visionary politics in Britain today, reflected in low voter turnouts and politicians unable to tell us what sort of society they think we should be.

Quincy Cloet reflects on Britain’s relationship with Europe between the First and Second World Wars, and its role within the League of Nations. While the context is different, Britain’s reluctance to carve a meaningful role within Europe echoes that period, argues Cloet. ‘In the interwar years the country never made up its mind what type of actor it wanted to be in Europe – with detrimental results,’ he writes. In 2016 Britain is an uncertain partner in Europe, perhaps the referendum is an opportunity to take on a bolder, diplomatic role.

In non-EU related news on Lacuna…Last week on 19th May Israel freed Palestinian journalist Mohammad al-Qiq, who spent more than three months on hunger strike to protest the Israeli government’s use of detention without trial. Before his release, Sorcha Amy Thomson visited Hebron in the occupied West Bank to interview his wife about her husband’s struggle for freedom. Thomson tells his story in this gripping piece for Lacuna.