Historian has the perfect reply to Ann Widdecombe comparing Brexit to slave emancipation
- Credit: Chatham House
A historian and writer has set the record straight on Brexiteer arguments that the UK has ever been 'oppressed' by European Union membership.
The Conservatives have recently launched the new election slogan "set Britain free", prompting Dr Helene von Bismarck to retweet her own response from a recent lecture.
The slogan's sentiment follows remarks from anti-EU figures such as Ann Widdecombe, who has compared leaving the EU to emancipation from slavery.
"The perception of the EU as an oppressor of the United Kingdom is based on an extremely selective reading of the history," Dr von Bismarck told members of the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House.
The academic, who is a prominent commentator on anglo-EU relations, acknowledged that the UK's attitude to membership has been "half-hearted", but said that to French observers, for example, the concessions that the UK has secured within the union are a considerable win.
You may also want to watch:
"British diplomacy within the EU was often extremely successful," she said, noting all the opt-outs the UK has secured as a member as well as the EC budget rebate negotiated by Margaret Thatcher in 1984.
She continued: "The drama of the last four years should not make us forget that the United Kingdom was much more than just an awkward partner in the integration process."
- 1 Brexiteer Prue Leith quits Tory Party after government votes down motion to protect UK food standards
- 2 Public slams Brexit Party tweet which shames Tory MPs who voted against free school meals
- 3 Piers Morgan must expose the government's Brexit betrayal
- 4 Peers set to remove law-breaking sections of Boris Johnson's Brexit bill
- 5 Group in protest against Tory MPs who voted down free school meals targets offices with empty plates
- 6 Tory minister blames journalists for NHS Test and Trace failure as he defends Dido Harding
- 7 Michel Barnier postpones Brussels return as Brexit trade talks in London continue
- 8 James Cleverly mocked after telling people to 'look at how they're doing in Wales'
- 9 Dido Harding is struggling to defend the indefensible
- 10 Boris Johnson and Priti Patel urged to end 'attacks' on lawyers in letter by 800 legal professionals
In fact, she said, as part of its membership, the UK has championed both the single market and the enlargement of the bloc to include Eastern European countries.
"The European Union is what it is today, not just in spite of but also because of the United Kingdom. And I would say this is not a bad track record for a 'hostage' which needs to be unleashed."
Von Bismarck, who has written for the Times and der Spiegel as well as for numerous academic publications about Brexit, retweeted Chatham House's video from November 12 saying: "Since the Conservative Party has now started to campaign with the slogan 'Set Britain Free', I could not really help myself."
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.