Cameron’s referendum leaflet rattled through my letter box on Monday. Today, I posted it back to him, not at No 10 where some minion would no doubt bin it but to his home address in West Oxon. I think it is outrageous that we, as taxpayers, are paying for this and I have said so. More important, I think he has got it wrong and risks losing his place in our history. He could have been a true successor to Churchill and Thatcher if he had shown the courage to choose the LEAVE option. Sadly I think his judgement has been clouded because he has become an insider, a part of the entrenched establishment. This has happened to leaders throughout history and he is just one of many to fall into the trap.
I fear that younger products of the state education system may be very vague about our country’s history and they will have to forgive my retrospect.
I will start with Henry II and Becket. Becket was killed on the impetuous orders of his king; done to death in Canterbury Cathedral where he was Archbishop. Before his elevation to the priesthood, he served his king as Chancellor. He was a good servant of the king and a long-term friend. He changed when he assumed the mitre and crozier and became the champion of the church and its clergy. In other words, he joined the church establishment, supporting the privileges of the often corrupt and venal clergy over the common law. He became a martyr of the church but Henry established a sort of equality under the law in those pretty lawless days.
This brings us neatly to Henry VIII and the Reformation. The Catholic Church sought to rule above the sovereignty of individual nations and their kings or queens. Popes could excommunicate kings and put countries under interdict, preventing baptism, marriage, confession, unction and burial of the king’s subjects as a way of imposing church rule over a nation. Henry may have been motivated by the need for a divorce and a male heir but he also resented attempts by a foreign institution to interfere in the temporal affairs of his kingdom.
Henry’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth I reigned in a time when might tended to prevail over right and when men assumed women were the inferior sex. Despite this, Elizabeth ruled over a kingdom that grew in confidence and emerged from the travails of religious discord. Catholic Spain, probably egged on by the Pope, sent the Armada to invade Britain. Imagine the courage of this lone woman as Drake sailed out to take on the Spaniards.
Neither for the first nor the last time, Britain stood alone when Napoleon sought to create an empire. This small nation prevailed! Thanks to Nelson and Trafalgar. The story is repeated with Wellington and Waterloo.
World War One found this small nation battling with the Kaiser’s hordes but we prevailed in no small part due to the heroism of thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen who gave their lives for their country.
Tragically and within twenty years, Hitler ruled a Nazi Germany bent on the destruction of civilisation. This small country stood alone for a while and it took the leadership and courage of Winston Churchill to lead the country to victory and peace. Ironically, Churchill came to see a European federation as the way to stop wars!
More recently and on a smaller scale, our sovereignty was threatened when Argentina invaded the Falklands. It took courage for Margaret Thatcher to despatch a fleet half way round the world to protect the residents of the Falklands from the tyranny of a foreign bully.
I think we face a threat to our freedom and our sovereignty today. Not from an imperialist dictator or a Fascist monster. It is a subtler threat but a real one. It is the threat of being locked into a European super-state that has ambitions for ever-closer political union and enlargement with Turkey and its 70 million population on the shopping list.
The EU is dysfunctional and undemocratic. Dysfunctional because of the diverse economic and political nature of its 28 members. Dysfunctional because it cannot solve the question of asylum seekers and refugees. Dysfunctional because it cannot deal with Putin’s annexation of Ukraine. Dysfunctional because it cannot shake many of its mainland members out of an economic lethargy while Britain’s economy motors on.
Undemocratic because the European Parliament is laughably powerless. Undemocratic because real power lies in the unelected Commission and the Council of Ministers who forever have to wheel and deal to meet the needs of poor and rich, large and small member countries.
We have a once-in-lifetime, perhaps a once-ever, opportunity to strike a blow for Britain’s freedom and for other EU countries to have the courage to say “enough”; to stop the bureaucratic train in its tracks. If we throw away this opportunity with a majority voting to remain, I suspect the Brussels bureaucrats will be laughing all the way to the European Bank, knowing they can continue their quest for a larger EU that moves to an ever closer political union. We will be trapped in this movement and we will regret it.
We must be brave and resolute on 23 June and vote to leave. We owe it to Great Britain but we also owe it to other, similar nations on the European mainland who find themselves trapped in this dysfunctional and undemocratic construct.