The independent London newspaper

Britain has helped shape the EU for four decades

08 March, 2018

• IT is a small-minded, narrow, patriotism that Mark Newberry peddles (English view, March 1).

Is it not a sign of insecurity when it is necessary to suggest that Britain has been at the “whim of a pushy, self-serving, cabal of nations beyond these shores”?

The truth is quite the opposite. Britain has, rightly, played a very substantial role in shaping the European Union for the last four decades.

Its men and women have served with distinction across Europe’s many organisations, bringing a British perspective to their discussions. British politicians have gone to Brussels and argued, successfully, for the interests of our country down the years.

What is sad is that every success was always trumpeted as a British victory over Europe. Every failure was derided as a cheap trick practised by nasty foreigners on our country.

This has left many voters believing the propaganda of the Brexit industry: people who thought it was vital to “take back control,” as their dubious referendum slogan put it.

Nothing could be further from the truth, as the current negotiations have shown. Across the board we are finding that leaving the EU leaves us at the mercy of the icy winds of global environment, with few friends and allies. We have, as was so memorably remarked, left a three-course dinner for a packet of crisps.

What is it about Mark Newberry’s patriotism that requires him to turn his back on our European neighbours? Their identities are not challenged by sharing what they can, while retaining all that is best about their own cultures.

Why does he see British (or, as he would have it, English) life as so fragile that it will melt into a European morass? That is the last thing I would wish for.

Finally I will take no lessons on family history. My uncle was a Lieutenant-Commander in the Royal Navy, whose ship was sunk beneath him. My mother plotted the D-Day landings.

Yet I remain a passionate European, just as I love this country. The two are by no means mutually exclusive. I just don’t need to wave the flag to prove it.

Ryland Road, NW5


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