Community alive for the Queen in the midst of the EU Referendum

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Michelle Donelan Newspaper Column 16 June 16

With only days to go before the EU referendum, with both sides firing their ammunition at one another, it was reassuring last weekend to attend so many community events in support of one person, one aspect of the state, which remains constant and above politics.

Fun, laughter and a sense of community were the order of the day at the dozens of parties across our county to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. I attended events in Hilperton, Chippenham, Melksham, Bradford on Avon and Semington. All had a terrific turnout and it was heartening to see such community spirit at each.

Whether or not you believe in the institution of monarchy, the Queen’s official birthday weekend was an opportunity to give thanks to an individual who has dedicated her life to public service. She has served our nation by providing counsel to 12 prime ministers, fulfilling ceremonial duties across the globe, and by acting as a great ambassador for Great Britain. The weekend gave us an opportunity to become closer as a community and be inspired by her service and dedication to others. Thank you to all those who helped organise local events.

Next Thursday we head to the polls for what I believe is the most important election of our lifetimes. The result matters to each of us as individuals, and as a community. A recent poll suggested that we are most likely to listen to our family, friends and colleagues when deciding how to vote. Much lower down the list are journalists and right at the bottom are politicians.

It is good that we turn to our friends, family and community for advice – it suggests that we appreciate the magnitude of the vote. It means that we are listening to those who we know have our own interests at heart.

As with the whole country, there are mixed views locally. Some business leaders believe that Britain’s future lies outside of the European Union, whilst others, such as Chippenham’s Siemens, are very clear that if we leave it will be bad for local jobs.

I have always been a Eurosceptic and my heart does draw me towards Brexit, but my head says that it is too big a gamble with our country’s future. On Thursday I will vote to Remain. It is much easier to get out of Europe than get back in and so I believe we must give it a last shot and help change it from within.

My full views are set out on my website at michelledonelan.com/eu. If you are not online and would like a copy sent to you, please call (01249) 704465.

As always, please contact me if you have any questions, concerns or need a surgery appointment by phone or email michelle.donelan.mp@parliament.uk

It is important to stress, the future of our EU membership is up to you, so ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’ please vote and make your voice heard on June 23.