The day the UK became fully self-governing again, January 1, 2021, was for many millions of Britons a reason to celebrate. But you wouldn’t have picked that up from our national broadcaster. The BBC’s reports were unrelievedly apprehensive.
And it provided a platform for Frankie Boyle — you know, the comedian who likes to poke fun at people with Down’s Syndrome — to declare on his own New Year special: ‘Having Brexit at the end of a year like this is like finding cancer has spread to the walls of your house.’ Nice.
But no broadcaster has been as hysterically doom-laden as Dan Snow, presenter of various history programmes.
On January 1, he tweeted: ’75 years ago, after history’s bloodiest war, with its genocide and unimaginable brutality, a generation of survivors tried to prevent future war by building institutions to curb assertions of national sovereignty. The UK forged that. Now we help to dismantle it. Brexit is a tragedy.’
Snow’s Twitter handle is @thehistoryguy. But he seems to have little grasp of the subject, in this matter.
The idea that peace in Europe has been guaranteed by the European Union — formerly the European Economic Community — is a familiar nonsense. David Cameron was rightly ridiculed when, during the 2016 referendum campaign, he warned that a vote to leave would put at risk ‘peace on our continent’.
Yes, one reason for the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 (the forerunner of the Common Market) was to forge closer economic and political links between Germany and France, which had fought three wars against each other in the previous three quarters of a century. But does anyone seriously suggest that Britain’s leaving the EU will tempt Germany to send tanks rolling across the French border?
In fact, the UK is increasing its financial and military commitment to keeping the peace in Europe through our membership of Nato — the organisation that protects European borders from being crossed by hostile powers.
Actually, Dan Snow, like many fanatical proponents of European political integration, doesn’t like those borders much. In an interview last year he said: ‘In 200 years’ time, do I think that there will be states called Belgium, and the Netherlands, and Luxembourg and Britain? I think I probably don’t, really. That will cause a democratic deficit, but what’s the alternative?’
The alternative, Dan, is those countries still existing. Britons fought in Europe 75 years ago precisely to maintain nations’ right to independence, not least those countries that Snow lists. It was for democracy, not to create the ‘democratic deficit’ about which Snow is so insouciant.
Perhaps he should travel to Estonia, a country seized by the Soviet Union when Stalin and Hitler carved up Europe into their respective spheres of interests. Following Vladimir Putin’s annexation of predominantly Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine, Estonia feared the Russian president would use the fact that there is a large Russian community within its territory to mount a similar operation.
Nato moved to protect the Estonian border — and the bulk of that battlegroup is provided by the British Army. This has nothing whatever to do with the EU, and our leaving the EU has not the slightest relevance to it.
There was one occasion since 1945 when Europe was faced with full-scale war, and acts of genocide were carried out. That was during the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in 1991. The Luxembourg foreign minister, Jacques Poos, declared that the EU would take the lead in sorting out the conflict: ‘This is the hour of Europe, not the hour of the Americans.’ Read from source….