As we enter the beginning of the next phase of Brexit, the sabre-rattling has been deafening, with negotiators preparing for “tough talks” on the future relationship (Europe’s British question: what comes next?, Journal, 5 February). Talking tough may be one negotiating strategy, but in order to get the best outcome, we will also need bridge-builders and peacemakers preparing the ground for win-win outcomes, compromise and reconciliation.
As Quakers and former MEPs, we know that this latter job was previously done by cross-party MEPs, alongside a multitude of British and European actors, working in quiet ways to build bridges and share information. Brexit threatens these vital back-channels. Quakers have long played a quiet but instrumental role in European peacebuilding – from refugee relief after the second world war to today’s Quaker Council for European Affairs advocating for humane EU security and migration policies. Today more than ever, we need to invest in our quiet diplomats.
MEP for North East England 2014-20
Molly Scott Cato
MEP for South West England 2014-20
• Ian McEwan was exacting in his analysis (Brexit: It’s done, 1 February), but what he didn’t pick up on was the inadequate role of the MEPs who we voted for but who had no remit to keep us up to date with their input into EU decision-making. Somehow our politics and probably the media didn’t seem to think we needed to know what was going on over there or to report on the EU’s relevance in our everyday lives.
No wonder the “them and us” mindset developed, especially after Farage began his full frontal assault. Sadly, he got the publicity and the EU got the flak. And we’ll be the poorer as a result.
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