The Conservatives used to be the party of Europe. Their greatest war leader, Winston Churchill, was a passionate proponent of the “union of Europe as a whole” as the way to create lasting peace on our continent.
Although he didn’t at first envisage the UK joining this union – because we already had our Empire and Commonwealth – by the time Conservative Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, applied for the UK to join the fledgling European Economic Community in 1961, Churchill had changed his mind.
Indeed, it was:
- The Conservatives that joined the UK to the European Community.
- The Conservatives that advocated and helped to design the EU’s Single Market.
- The Conservatives that encouraged the former Communist countries to join.
Every Tory Prime Minister since 1957 strongly endorsed Britain’s membership – with the notable exception of the current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and his predecessor, Theresa May.
Hardened Eurosceptics were always previously on the far side-lines of the party. But now, they’re in charge, with Mr Johnson at least pretending to be one of them (he wasn’t always).
Now, a sizeable number of Conservative MPs, who used to be in the mainstream of their party, can apparently get lost.
Twenty-one Conservative MPs have been dismissed from their party this week because they rebelled against the UK crashing out of the EU in a catastrophic no-deal Brexit.
Those no longer welcome include Sir Nicholas Soames, grandson of Sir Winston Churchill.
Sir Nicholas has been a Tory MP for 37 years, and like his granddad, is a passionate supporter of a united Europe.
Below, I am posting an edited extract of Winston Churchill’s landmark post-war speech given in Zurich, 1946, and his grandson’s powerful address in Parliament in February 2016, when he extolled the European Union’s remarkable achievement in bringing us “freedom, security and prosperity”.
But now, Sir Nicholas’s message – and that of one of his former party’s greatest leaders, Sir Winston Churchill – is off-message.
Can the Conservative Party ever be the same again? Their pro-Europe legacy has been shattered.
- Watch this related video of Sir Winston Churchill and his grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames: Unity brings peace
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