Nameplate historians in Britain are rallying to renegotiate membership in the EU

Historians in the News
tags: EU, Brexit



Historians for Britain is an independent, non-partisan group established by Business for Britain, to represent the historians and academics who believe in a renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the European Union, backed up by an In/Out referendum. The group was founded in July 2013 when twenty-two of Britain’s leading historians wrote to The Times to throw their support behind the campaign for a renegotiation of Britain’s EU membership. Signatories included Professor David Abula a, Lord Lexden and Professor Robert Tombs. Historians for Britain aims to achieve its objectives via quality research and set-piece seminars and lectures, which will demonstrate that leading historical thinkers have serious reservations about Britain’s current relationship with the EU and want a better deal for our country.  

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Foreword by Matthew Elliott, Founder, Business for Britain

The last seventy years have been among the most peaceful in Europe’s long, turbulent history. For this we should all be extremely grateful. Nearly all of Europe’s dictators have been deposed and, for the rst time in centuries, Europe is almost entirely democratic, a continent of close allies. While we should be grateful for this lack of con ict, we should also ask why it was that war in Europe died out. What was it that made sure that, after 1945, there were no more clashes between the European states?

While Europe today is at peace, it is clearly going in the wrong direction. The European Union (EU) has spectacularly failed the people of Europe – economic growth is poor, its political institutions are opaque and decisions are made that often go against the express wishes of the European people. And yet, for all its self-evident failings, many people have many misconceptions about the EU, often confused about the role that the Union has played in keeping the peace in Europe.

One of the most perverse, and corrosive, claims made by the advocates of EU membership is that the EU is solely responsible for Europe’s current peace. There are even those who use this claim to try and blackmail voters, warning that a vote against the EU is a vote to return to the horror of war. As the former President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso put it, a vote to leave the EU is a vote to return to “the pre-integrated Europe of the divisions, the war, the trenches”. This is inaccurate and immoral scaremongering of the very worst kind.

I am therefore very grateful to Professor Abula a for bringing together this second collection of essays to challenge this corrosive myth. I applaud this latest e ort of some of our leading historians to refute this attempt to scare the voters of Britain. As these essays show, there is no basis to the claims that a vote to leave the EU is a vote for a return to war. Europe’s peace has had nothing to do with the EU.

Many European countries, of course, are members of the EU, but many are not. This modern divide has not prompted any sort of anger or resentment – non-EU countries like Norway, Switzerland and Iceland cooperate on a regular basis with EU member states, such as France, Germany and Italy. Were Britain to Vote Leave in the forthcoming referendum, it too would have friendly relations with its European friends and neighbours. A vote to leave the out-of-date, undemocratic institutions of the EU is not a vote against our closest friends and neighbours.

Once again, Historians for Britain has provided a much-needed, long-overdue analysis of our history that is both pertinent and makes for fascinating reading. I am sure that many will nd it invaluable as they weigh up their options in the forthcoming referendum. Once again, I’d like to thank both David Abula a and Oliver Lewis for their hard work.

 




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