Churchill – a `founding father’ of the European Union – would vote to Remain

Winston Churchill has often been voted the most important/influential Briton ever. I was surprised to read claims that Churchill was a Eurosceptic, so I read through all his four great “European” speeches from 1946 to 1949. They were carefully prepared as a historic record of his views, delivered at grand events amidst great ceremony and designed to achieve impact: they certainly did.

Read Felix Klos’s short book “Churchill on Europe” with its brilliant account of the build-up, and response afterwards, to the 1946 Zurich speech. Klos then chronicles how the reaction inspired Churchill onwards to the founding of what is now the European Movement (link) at his Albert Hall speech – given beneath the banner “Europe arise”.

Having read the speeches and considered the way the world was changing around him, I have no doubt that Churchill would have voted to Remain In the European Union (EU) – but of course no-one can ever know now. However, he was one of the EU’s `founding fathers’ and its values represent the fulfilment of his life’s work. Moreover, he approved of our 1961 application to join a Community where the first sentence of its founding Treaty made clear that its over-arching political aim – “ever-closer union amongst the peoples of Europe” – went far wider than merely a “Common Market”.

In the darkest days of 1940, Churchill had proposed a complete union between Great Britain and his beloved France. After the terrible consequences of what he called the Thirty Years War (1914-45), what should Britain and France do to tackle the “German Problem”? His answer was clear – initially, he wanted France to take the lead in helping Germany to re-join the European family.

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