Ian McEwan urges UK to 'remain and reform' EU

Ian McEwan urges UK to 'remain and reform' EU

Atonement author Ian McEwan has warned a vote to leave the European Union this Thursday (23rd June) would set into motion "a dangerous unravelling" and urged the UK to "remain and reform".

In an article for the Mail on Sunday over the weekend, he called those pushing for Brexit "ahistorical, spoiled children of the EU’s success" and branded the politics of those leading the campaign "narrow, ungenerous and blurrily emotional".

He said: "The Brexiters offer no great political vision or ambition beyond a free market and, simply – leave. As if that magic word will transform us."

While acknowledging the "many pressures" Europe faces - from migration and the rise of populist, nationalist parties to the "unresolved business of the euro" and "an unwholesome fixation within the Brussels mindset with literal adherence to founding principles", McEwan conceded "the free movement of labour across borders surely needs to be modified". He added: "My fear is that a Brexit will set in train a general disentanglement, and Europe will confront in time all its old and terrifying ghosts".

He said: "And if that happens, a thousand years of history show us that the UK will be profoundly implicated. The Thirty Years and the Napoleonic Wars, the bloody conflicts of the 20th Century – we Europeans should never forget the corpses piled behind us." 

McEwan, who signed a pro-EU letter in May alongside other leading publishing figures and celebrities, argued that 60 years of "relative prosperity and unprecedented peace" delivered by the union showed we are "better together", and that Brussels and Strasbourg - sometimes "mired in lofty abstraction" - needed the UK's "sturdy intellectual traditions of British empiricism, of evidence-based policy".

"Peace is boring, except to those who remember a war," he said. "The ahistorical, spoiled children of the EU’s success are pushing us towards a dangerous unravelling."