D-Day veteran says Brexit would be a ‘crying shame’

D-Day veteran Eric Chardin of Cambridge speaks to BBC News. Photograph: BBC.

D-Day veteran Eric Chardin of Cambridge speaks to BBC News. Photograph: BBC. - Credit: Archant

While Brexiteers often attempt to invoke the war time spirit to convince themselves that things will all be fine, a D-Day veteran interviewed on the news gave a very different perspective.

Eric Chardin, who was just 19 when he took part in the 1944 landings, said Brexit would be a "crying shame".

In an interview with BBC News during the 75th anniversary commemorations in Portsmouth, the 94-year-old was asked about peace in Europe.

He said that he hoped it would continue, before unprompted mentioning Britain's departure from the EU.

He said: "Brexit worries me. It would be an awful shame if what we've gone to so much trouble to do, to collect the European big nations together, to break it all up now would be a crying shame."

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His comments were applauded by opponents of Brexit on social media.

"The next time a Brexiteer mentions WWII they must be reminded of Eric Chardin, a true patriot, what an amazing gentleman," tweeted one.

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Another wrote: "Soooo, where are all the Brexiteers lined up to call him a traitor, a Remoaner, someone to be 'dealt with'?"

Ben Robinson replied: "Can someone show Mark Francois please?"

Katie Godfrey posted: "Eric Chardin had me in tears. So many dead & wounded fighting for democracy & freedom. From which arose the EU and 70 yrs peace, democracy and freedom. Why wld anyone want to lose that and risk our NHS?"

The comments come as 122 military veterans have signed a letter warning that peace in Europe is threatened by Brexit.

It comes from those whose service spans from World War II to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They write that peace should not be "taken for granted" and that we should be "proud to lead in Europe."

The letter says: "Nato does not keep the peace in Europe - it keeps peace for Europe. It is the EU that keeps peace in Europe, because when you trade, you do not fight.

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"As former members of the armed forces and veterans of more recent conflicts, we have served alongside soldiers from other European nations, supporting each other while under fire or facing danger.

"We have learnt that war stinks, that peace is the natural goal for civilisation, and that Europeans are our brothers in arms.

"But that peace and friendship is now threatened by Brexit. Peace in Europe is not something that should be taken for granted.

"We should be proud to lead in Europe, proud that our friends respect us and can rely on us. That's why we, as former members of the armed forces, all support a People's Vote on Brexit."

Stuart Thomson from Worcestershire, who was a corporal in the RAF, served in Gulf War I, twice in the Former Yugoslavia campaign, and is a co-founder of Veterans for Europe, branded our political leaders "cowards".

He said: "During my own service, I've been on operations with Dutch and French, been on exercise with Germans, Italians, Danes and Czechs and they are all great soldiers. Brexit has already shown us up to be unreliable allies, and it's revealed an ugly, dark side of our society. Would Dutch or French soldiers trust us now? What has happened since 2016 is very disturbing, and it's clear that the military aspects of Brexit weren't thought about properly.

"Politicians trying to force us out of the EU without going back to the people are cowards, not leaders. They have no mandate and no right to behave this way. Those of us who fought for democracy are demanding a democratic People's Vote to hold them to account."

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