A Brexiteer MP has been criticised by historians for his ‘totally false’ statements on Twitter about Europe and Britain after WWII.
Daniel Kawczynski, the pro-Brexit Conservative backbencher for Shrewsbury, claimed in a tweet that there was ‘no Marshall Plan for us only for Germany’, referring to American payments of more than £12 billion approved in 1948 to help rebuild Europe.
But his claims were quickly dismissed online and offline.
‘Dan is categorically wrong about the Marshall Plan,’ said Dr Warren Dockter, an American expert in British history and lecturer in international politics at Aberystwyth University, echoing hundreds of people on social media pointing out Kawczynski’s error.
Quoting from The Marshall Plan: Fifty Years After, a seminal academic book on the subject, Dr Dockter said Britain received 26% of Marshall Plan donations, more than any other country.
France received 18% and West Germany received 11%, he said.
‘In addition to Marshall Plan money, the UK received favourable loans and grants on top of the Marshall Plan aid,’ he told the Press Association.
Britain made its last repayment on the Marshall Plan loans in 2006.
Kawczynski’s full tweet reads: ‘Britain helped to liberate half of Europe. She mortgaged herself up to eye balls in process. No Marshall Plan for us only for Germany. We gave up war reparations in 1990. We put £370 billion into EU since we joined. Watch the way ungrateful EU treats us now. We will remember.’
‘The British essentially waived their rights to collect World War Two reparations from Germany in 1990,’ said Dr Charlotte Riley, an expert in modern British history, explaining that the decision came as part of an agreement when the country reunified.
The source of Kawczynski’s ‘£370 billion’ claim is not clear and he did not respond to requests for comment.
Some of Kawczynski’s political colleagues were among the hundreds of people highlighting his error on social media.
Labour MP David Lammy tweeted: ‘Is this a parody account?
‘Britain received billions from the Marshall Plan and significantly more than West Germany or any other nation. Pick up a history book and you will learn that this brand of jingoistic nationalism is what tore our continent apart twice in one century.’
Irish politician Thomas Byrne wrote simply: ‘Totally false tweet from a British MP about the Marshall Plan and the UK.’
This is not the first time Kawczynski has been taken to task for inaccurate claims he has made on social media.
In September 2018, he posted a photograph of himself holding lemons in a supermarket alongside a caption claiming the ‘EU protectionist racket means inefficient EU growers are preferred to other non EU Mediterranean growers, due to massive tariffs imposed by EU’.
Tariffs are taxes placed on imported goods to make domestic produce more appealing by making imports more expensive.
But a self-described ‘tariff nerd’ and ‘Remainiac’ pointed out that large amounts of the UK’s supply of citrus fruits are imported from countries like South Africa and Mexico which have a free trade deal with the EU and therefore 0% tariffs.