I was in Warsaw this week it was a flying visit literally and as ever it was full on with activities and meeting from beginning to end. I crammed a lot into a short time including having a really good meal in a Serbian restaurant that was within walking distance of the flat that I stay in.
I had never been to a Serbian restaurant and the food was excellent as was the Serbian beer quite dark and strong it was very nice, when I was there I got talking to a lady who was part Polish and part Serbian she had quite good English to be fair . I asked her how did a Serbian restaurant end up in Warsaw she explained that it had been her ambition to open a Serbian themed restaurant and it had built up a good client base.
The total price for 2 good meals was £27.00 which when you think about it is really cheap in the UK I would expect to pay between £50 to £60.00 so it just puts things in perspective. We also talked about the referendum in the UK and about the UK leaving the EU. She said to me that she could not believe that the UK would leave the EU. As she said to me it would feel like Europe had lost a limb.
I suppose that the truth is that there are whole generations that have only ever known the EU as an entity, old gits like me can remember the Common Market before the EU was created. She also said that if the UK did leave that it would damage the strength of the EU at a time when Russia had shown aggression towards the Baltic states and the Ukraine in particular. The volatility of the whole region was delicate and Serbia knows only to well what happens when old tensions are allowed to boil over on ethnic grounds.
The truth is she said that at this point in time Europe needs to be more unified than ever and I have to say that I agree with her. The interesting thing is that I had not really considered the UK referendum from a pan European perspective. As she said taking the fifth strongest economy in the world out of the EU cannot make Europe a safer stronger economy at a time of global growth in India , China and South America.
The next day when I visited the guys in my office in Warsaw which incidentally has grown to now employ 39 staff indicative of the Companies success as it enjoys record volumes of business and revenues to match. I took the chance to talk about the conversation that I enjoyed the night before. Not one person I talked to supported the idea of an EU without the UK as part of it the overall view was that Europe would be weaker both in terms of economics, trade and militarily.
Now I accept that I am lucky most Brits hardly ever go anywhere and I do understand the concerns that people have around the issues of migration, housing benefits, the pressure on the NHS, but the real facts show that the problem is frankly small compared to what the Murdoch media would have you believe.
Looking back I am really pleased that I went to that restaurant and spoke to that lady, it gave me a whole new and positive reflection of just what a great nation this is and what people outside of the UK think about our value and place in both the EU and the world.
So no surprises from me I am 100% behind staying in the EU and will lobby accordingly.