Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Churchill would have campaigned for Britain to stay in the EU

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Boris Johnson says that Churchill wanted a united Europe but not for Great Britain to be part of it. This might have been his thinking in 1945 when he, with Stalin and Roosevelt, then Truman, was one of the Big Three, but in his last years he supported Macmillan's application to join the E.E.C. So he told his constituency association chairman.

Of course, by then he had partly lost his faculties, but he was still acute at times. For example, at his last birthday celebration, he accurately told his daughters,

'I have achieved a great deal to achieve nothing at all.'
Today, were he alive, I think Churchill would be a supporter of staying in the EU. He would probably be a big supporter of the Anglo-American alliance, of Israel and of intervention in the Middle East. He might want the US and UK to finish off ISIS and reorganise Syria and Iraq.

Or on the other hand he might not. He has been dead for fifty years and nobody knows. Eden sent troops to Suez in 1956, the year after Churchill retired, and then was forced to withdraw them by the Americans. Churchill said then 
'I don't know if I would have had the courage to go in but I am sure I would not have had the courage to get out.'
If he didn't know, one year after leaving office, what he would have done about Suez how can we, fifty years after his death, know what he would have said in the 2016 referendum campaign?

Nevertheless, I do think that he would probably be for England (he rarely said 'Britain') staying in the EU, were he with us now, but I am more sure that immigration control would be his main political theme. In his last years as Prime Minister he badly wanted to prevent what was called 'coloured immigration' into the UK, but complained that he could not get ministers to act. Instead, he presided over the beginning of multiracial Britain.

According to Macmillan's diary, in January 1955, a few months before he ceased to be Prime Minister, discussing the forthcoming general election, Churchill told the cabinet that

'Keep England white'
would be a good campaign slogan.

I wonder whether the England Churchill loved still exists. Perhaps in the countryside and small towns it does. At any rate, Churchill, I think, would have been saddened to tears (he wept frequently) by modern England.

9 comments:

  1. As a serious amateur historian now in my late 70's who has lived through all the politicial economic and ethnographic changes - and having read every easily available writing of Churchill's, - IMHO I doubt that Churchill would today be in favour of his beloved England surrendering sovereignty to the EU. What he knew about Europe and the E.E.C.has been changed out of all recognition by subsequent events; and I'm sure he would consider the loss of control to unelected bureaucrats in Brussels to be completely unacceptable, - as he would hate lack of political willpower in successive British governments to retain draconian control of immigration.

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    1. I think immigration into Europe would be his biggest concern. I don't think he would have minded free movement of people within Europe. But no-one can know.

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    2. I agree with you Baker, Mr. Churchill would as a conservative not abandon centuries of independence to please the rest of Europe. Since the EU was the brain child of the Third Reich and Vichy France a submerged England under the EU today seems as unpalatable as a submerged England under the Wehrmacht in 1940.

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  2. Churchill was senile and permanently drunk in 1963.

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    1. What is your evidence for this where you there? Are you in possession of documentary evidence?

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  3. One reason Churchill had for wanting a united Europe was to stop domination by Germany through war. The idea of a united Europe has changed so much over the years that it seems to have actually delivered what Churchill was trying to prevent. Whether you agree with that or not, I think that trying to guess what Churchill would say today is a moot point - the world has changed so much that we can't second guess what he, or anyone else, would say. Lets rely on what people alive today say to help us in our decision making.

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    1. I agree with this but he did suggest a union between England and France in 1940 after the fall of France. I think his views on non-white immigration would not have changed. In fact he was thoroughly racist

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  4. Yes I think that would have been the case

    https://theconversation.com/what-churchill-really-thought-about-britains-place-in-europe-36613

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  5. I fear everyone projects their fantasies on to Churchill. He was fantastically complex, much to do with having a ghastly father and an 'interesting' mother.
    Willis

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