Hereis Julie's message to the Stand Up to Racism Rally in Manchester in February 2016 on the refugee crisis and the importance of staying in the EU.
The “refugees welcome” campaign has swept across Europe, and has demonstrated heartfelt solidarity with those who have escaped war and unspeakable violence. It has added to our common humanity as citizens and as Europeans, with people personally standing up against the waves xenophobia and racism. I would like to thank each one of you here for the stand you have taken, and the work you have done to promote openness, tolerance, and understanding.
I have visited the refugee camps in Calais and Dunkirk, and have seen the inhumanity of women, children and men, abandoned and left to deal with appalling conditions in the middle of winter. For my part, I have been working with NGOs and my fellow Labour MEPs to raise the plight of these refugees in the European Parliament, and push for European action to alleviate their suffering, including giving them a sanctuary in their country of choice.
My colleagues and I have also been calling for our own UK government to do more to tackle the refugee crisis, sadly so far to no avail. But we need to continue applying that pressure, and redouble our efforts.
The refugee crisis that we are facing is a global crisis and a European crisis. To tackle it, we must strengthen the European Union, and our own role within it. This is the only way we could provide a response.
As citizens, we are now facing a fundamental choice this June: Whether to be an outward looking, open, and tolerant society, or whether to wrap ourselves in narrow-minded xenophobia, and disconnect from the world. This is a decision that will shape the lives of our young people, our children and grandchildren.
Leaving the EU will result in more fences, borders, divisions, and hatred, and play into the hands of those who do not want refugees here. Remaining in the Union gives people like us a powerful platform to articulate our concerns.
In our public debate about the refugee crisis, and about the European Union, we must stand up for common European values of social justice and solidarity, for tolerance, and against racism and narrow-mindedness.
The European Union is a vehicle for achieving the social justice we urgently need, both here in Britain, and across the continent, for refugees, and for all those who are excluded.
But that social justice won’t come about on its own. All of us citizens must stand up for it together. I’ll gladly stand up for a social Europe with all of you.