Sunday 13 October 2019

Robert Tombs: 'Misguided Remainers do not understand European history'

There's another corker of an article in today's Sunday Telegraph by my quondam supervisor Professor Robert Tombs.

Some quotations.

'If Europe needs a security guarantee for some of its borders, it comes from NATO, of which Britain remains the leading European member. But the real guarantee of European peace is that its states are democracies. Democracies do not go to war with each other. The only threat to European peace is whatever threatens its democratic stability, which I fear today includes the EU itself.

'Or is the justification of the EU that it protects Europe from global threats? Mr Guy Verhofstadt declared to cheering Lib Dems that “The world of tomorrow is a world of empires” in which the EU would replace the nation-states. How often we have heard this since Joseph Chamberlain first announced in 1904 that “The day of empires has come”. Leaving aside the question of whether the lumbering EU is remotely capable of bestriding the globe, we should ask ourselves where Chamberlain’s great empires are now.

'One with Nineveh and Tyre is the answer – though interestingly, some of the leading imperialists of Chamberlain’s day became early champions of European federalism.'

He ends with this:

'That great nostalgic General de Gaulle feared that European integration was the last chance to save old Europe, “the Europe that was once Christendom”; and he thought Britain was too much a global nation to be part of it. He was right on the second point. I hope he was wrong on the first.'

What, were he alive, would De Gaulle have thought of the present state of “the Europe that was once Christendom” and is on its way to resembling that formerly French ruled outpost of Christendom, the Lebanon? 

'I always had a certain idea of France' his memoirs famously begin and, whatever he had in mind exactly, modern France certainly is not it.