IN 2008, I came to live in Britain, a country I saw as a working meritocracy, the perfect blend of Anglo-Saxon open market and European welfare state, an outward-looking nation not ashamed to take the best of every culture.
I soon realised things were not perfect, but it still seemed to me, to quote a French philosopher loved by my Catalan grandfather, “the best of all possible worlds”.
With hard work and some British education, I managed to earn a living in the City. I always thanked the British taxpayer for financing my tuition, as well as my employers and colleagues, who found value in giving me opportunities and helping me. I felt so proud of my new identity that I decided to embrace it by becoming a British citizen.
As a gay man and a migrant, I was proud to see a British prime minister bring my rights in line with those of straight couples, and later enshrine in law his government’s pledge to spend 0.7% of GNI to international aid. Recently, I was proud to see various religions presiding over HM’s 90th birthday celebrations.
But lately the EU referendum campaign has made us face another side of Britain. A Britain that is too scared to welcome a refugee from a different race or religion. A Britain that wants to take its country back by severing ties with friends, and distrusts the advice of its allies. A country that no longer embraces its own pragmatism and diplomacy, and wants “my way or the highway”.
Over my time in Britain I have visited many of those places that the polls say are for Brexit. I have seen people who feel disconnected from their leaders, whether in London or Brussels. I have seen deprivation and lost opportunities, and a sense that the country has forgotten its people – I, like you, do not think that is right.
Now, fellow Briton, I am thankful for you have delivered for me the promise of meritocracy; equally I ask you to look in the mirror to see how this has made us both stronger.
Tomorrow you and I, your European friend, will decide our future, and we can either carry on complaining and distrusting, or we can hold onto this Union and carry on furthering prosperity.