Dear Mr Carmichael,
I am not one of your constituents.
My name is Maria Spirova, I am an EU citizen hailing from Bulgaria. I have made Oxford my home for the past five years and yesterday, along with scores of my neighbours and millions of fellow Europeans from Britain and the Continent, my heart broke while watching the Brexit bill debate in Parliament.
I can only imagine how difficult this day was for you and the 113 other MPs who attempted to defend common sense and keep disaster at bay.
I am writing to thank you. I am writing to say I am proud of you.
I cannot write to my own MPs, because when the time came for them to stand and be counted, all of them succumbed to fear and roundly betrayed Oxford, a Remain fortress. But I feel I must write to you, because I imagine you and your fellow dissenters need all the support you can get in these trying times - we are surrounded by so-called winners who lack in grace and overflow with spite.
I chose you, the representative of the Orkneys, because I know and love the islands and I am well aware that Orcadians know and love Europe and all it stands for.
When I visited the islands ten long years ago, I fell in love with the first lungful of sea air, with the first line of banter I exchanged with the red-bearded sailor who recommended the onion soup on the ferry.
I had spent enough time in Britain to understand that while I had always been an Anglophile, England was always going to be slow to embrace the likes of me. Not so on the Orkneys - people there welcomed me without question, without suspicion, although I couldn't have looked and sounded more different than them. They were seafaring folk, full of daring and curiosity, they had traversed the seas and they had been everywhere - from Heligolad through Rhodos, to the great ports of my own country. They knew where Bulgaria was, they knew famous Bulgarian sportsmen, they knew the capital. They had traded with us, gotten drunk with us, they had brought gifts for their children knitted by Bulgarian grandmothers on the beach of Varna. Their voyages had taught them that an ocean, let alone thin channel of saltwater, is not enough to divide people that have more common dreams, values and foibles to unite them than they have fears to separate them.
And because they were both Orcadians and citizens of the world (pardon, "citizens of nowhere"), I was immediately one of them - all the more so after a few rounds of Scapa at the pub in St Margaret's Hope.
I am writing to you because today, ten years later, I am part of them, still. I am part of Britain. And yesterday you did the right thing, defending me and all like me as part of this great country. You raged against the dying of a light that shone from the North Sea to the Black Sea. You took a last stand and milions admire you for it.
I am writing to tell you that I am not going anywhere. My home is here, my life is here, my friends are here. I am going to fight for a fair, connected, cosmopolitan Britain. I am going to hang in there. You hang in there, too.
We need each other.
*** Update ***
Mr Carmichael sent the following reply:
Thank you so much for your lovely letter. I am so sorry that you have been put in a position where you felt it necessary to write it.
Like you I am an internationalist and it pains me to see my country turn to a nationalist and isolationist agenda - especially as the Trump administration starts to take the USA down that path. It is impossible to say where this is all going to take us but I do know that it will only be worse if those of us who reject that agenda do not speak up and argue against it.
I am glad that you enjoyed your time in Orkney. I was not born there but have chosen to live there and to raise my family there and my own experience has also been of it as an open friendly and outward-looking community. You will, I am sure, be welcome back any time.
There is still a long way to go in this chapter of our history and, as I say, we can not predict what the outcome of it will be. In the meantime I am grateful to you for your support and also for having chosen to make your home here and to contribute to our community. Your contribution is welcome and valued.