I recently heard a Radio 4 talk by Professor Bogdanor about the UK and the EU over the years. In it he quoted from Churchill’s Zurich speech in which he recommended a United States of Europe. He did go on to admit that Churchill “was ambiguous” about whether the UK would be in the United States of Europe or not , but he and the BBC clearly wished to leave the impression that the great man both wanted a United States of Europe and at least did not rule out the UK joining. He never mentioned Churchill’s clearly stated view that there needed to be a union of the English speaking peoples for the USA, the UK and the rest of the Anglosphere which would be nothing to do with Europe.
How can a Professor who claims to be independent of party politics and an expert on UK constitutional history believe Churchill was ambiguous about this most central of issues? Indeed, if he read on in the Zurich speech he would see its conclusion said ” Great Britain, the British Commonwealth, mighty America and I trust Soviet Russia…must be friends and sponsors of the new Europe. Nothing there then about the UK being in it!
I see nothing ambiguous about Churchill’s stance, as any reader of his Fulton speech (The Sinews of peace) and his History of the English Speaking Peoples would know.
Churchill unambiguously did not want the UK to be any part of a United States of Europe, which he saw as the answer to continental wars and divisions. Churchill wanted a union of the English speaking peoples to create the overarching superpower to keep the world’s peace with the UN.
That is why he wrote a History of the English Speaking Peoples, in four volumes, not a History of the European peoples. As he said at the end of his long work “Here is set out the long story of the English speaking peoples. They are now to become allies in terrible but victorious wars (in Europe). And that is not the end. Another phase looms before us……Nor should we now seek to define precisely the exact terms of ultimate union”.
If he had wanted the UK to be in a European union he would have written a history of Europe explaining and stressing our past links and entanglements with the continent and ending with a forecast of European union, not our commitment to Commonwealth and empire.
If the history book is too Delphic for the Professor, then how about Churchill’s clear statements at Fulton in one of his most famous speeches?
“This means a special relationship between the British Commonwealth and Empire and the United States “of America..(Not between the United States of Europe and the USA) He goes on to describe ever closer defence collaboration between the USA and the UK. “Eventually there may come – I feel eventually there will come – the principle of common citizenship (between the UK and USA)…If the population of the English speaking Commonwealths be added to that of the US…there will be an overwhelming assurance of security”
So will the BBC now apologise and publish a correction to Professor Bogdanor’s misleading statements about Churchill and the UK possibly joining a United States of Europe? Churchill saw Britain and her Commonwealth and Empire as an entirely separate force from a United States of continental Europe. He wanted an ultimate merger for the UK with the USA not with Europe. He wanted an immediate defence merger which led to NATO instead.