David and Victoria Beckham grabbed headlines this morning when they announced their support for the campaign to remain in Europe, but it's actually another celebrity who has produced one of the most well-reasoned arguments for supporting remain that I've seen all campaign.
That person was former England footballer Rio Ferdinand, who shared his views on his Facebook page. I'd encourage you to click here and read the full version, but I've copied a couple of the paragraphs below as I think they're really excellent..
And before anyone gets snooty about him being 'just a footballer', I'll respond pre-emptively with a footballer cliche of my own: Play the ball, not the man.
Anyway, here are a selection of Rio's words, which you can read in full here:
The first is my kids. I’ve got three. I teach them that they can achieve anything – that they should dream big. And a lot of the things I’ve heard in this referendum tells me that there’ll be less opportunity for them if we’re out there on our own, pulling up the drawbridge to the rest of the world. I think other countries will just do the same to us. And the rest of the EU is hardly going to give us a great deal for walking out on them, are they? They’ll want to send a message to other countries not to leave as well. It’s just common sense. That means sorting out our new relationship with Europe could take years and years. I don’t know about you, but I think most people have got plans for the next few years. We want to get stuff done; we don’t want to be messing about and having endless Europe discussions. None of that is going to make my kids’ futures brighter; it’ll just make their world smaller. I don’t want that for them.
The second reason is that I think that politics is a team game. I worked for the greatest manager of all time. Sir Alex Ferguson always taught us that no individual is bigger than the team; that just because we played for Man United – a massive, famous club – didn’t mean we could swan around doing our own thing. We had to work even harder, and be even more of a team, to get where we wanted to be. And I think Europe is a bit like that. Britain is an amazing country, but we’ll achieve much more if we’re a team player – working with others to get things done. I am a big believer in needing to work with our friends and neighbours in Europe if we want to make a change we and our children can be proud of. The sort of things young people care about: tackling climate change, helping refugees, fighting disease in Africa – they can only get fixed if we all work together. So we shouldn’t cut off our nose to spite our face by walking away.
The third reason is the kind of country I want us to be. I’ve got a bit of a unique perspective on this. I’ve seen racism in football and I’ve spoken out about the racism my family and I experienced growing up in London in the 1980s. A lot has changed for the better – don’t get me wrong. But in this campaign, to tell you the truth, I haven’t liked what I’ve seen. I think all the focus on immigration has been a real shame. I don’t want Britain to become an angry and mean-spirited country. I think there’s a danger that, if Leave wins, it’ll be an endorsement of the idea that it’s OK to blame all our problems on foreigners. The England football team used to do that. And it didn’t help us play any better. Then we started learning from the foreign players we’d brought to the Premier League, and we improved ourselves. So let’s remember: Europeans make a really important contribution to our country, and most of our problems are actually home-grown.