The 10 best past achievements of an independent UK/England

I am very positive about what the UK can achieve once we are an independent country again. I think we need to remind our fellow countrymen and women just what we have achieved in the past, when as a country we were both much smaller and poorer than today. This is my list. I would like to hear your suggestions of what else we should include.

1. Magna Carta 1215 – setting out why every man should be free under the law, innocent until proven guilty, and why the King should have to take advice from others.
2. 1533 Statute in restraint of Appeals. England peacefully shakes off foreign legal controls and jurisdiction by Act of Parliament, asserting independence
3. 1588 Defeat of Spanish Armada England stands up to the European bully power of the age and wins despite large imbalance in populations and wealth
4.1623 Publication of Shakespeare’s First Folio – colossal literary and cultural achievement
5. 1688/9  Glorious Revolution and Bill of Rights – Parliament establishes proper controls over executive government and the King
6. 1805 The UK defeats France and Spain at Trafalgar, starting to lift the threat of domination of the continent by force of arms by the allied powers.
7. 1837 The UK abolishes slavery and offers the example to the rest of the world. (Act of Parliament 1833)
8. 1851 The Great Exhibition demonstrates the brilliance of the UK industrial revolution
9. 1928 Equal votes for all women and men
10. 1940 A lonely UK wins the battle of Britain which starts the liberation of Europe from Nazi domination.

With a history like this surely we should stay true to the struggles of our ancestors who fashioned a free people and fought to keep us free.


    May 25, 2016

    (patent No. 436,290 and 457,536 ) The catseye for roads invented by Percy Shaw 1934. Simple invention yet mirrors of a sort had been on the go from 6000 BC in Turkey.
    How it was accomplished without Turkey’s imminent input into the EU and without EU funding we’ll never know.

  2. David Price
    May 25, 2016

    The merchants and explorers who built a vast trading empire and spawned the commonwealth. The Merchant Venturers of Bristol where I gew up funded Cabot’s voyage to discover Newfoundland and contributed to Clifton Bridge and GWR Brunel’s projects.

    We should continue to set our sights on world trade rather than the grubby machinations of grey men in Brussels.

    1. sjb
      May 25, 2016

      What do you make of today’s FT interview with Roberto Azevêdo (Director-General of WTO)?

      1. David Price
        May 26, 2016

        Sorry I don’t use the FT in part because of the paywall.

        Are you refering to the Doha blockage where WTO negotiations are held up by US and China being at odds over China’s agricultural status? And yet we can trade with the US and China but we have to operate through the EU for trade with Kenya where Germany makes more money on coffee than Kenya which supplies the beans.

        My views on trade are influenced by my experiences in commerical technology where my company was far more successful in sales to China, Australia, the US, Taiwan and Japan than to the EU. It got to the point where my group simply stopped responding to RFQs from German companies as it was clear we were only helping German suppliers with their pricing and giving them ideas for solutions.

        I think if we are to contribute experience and acumen to trade negotiations beyond our own interests we would be better off doing so at the WTO level under which the EU itself operates.

        1. sjb
          May 26, 2016

          Yes, these paywalls are a pain; I think the Daily Mail picked up the story so you may find it on their website.

          Azevêdo said the UK would be unable to “cut and paste” the terms obtained by the EU but would have to renegotiate with the other one hundred and sixty-one countries of the WTO.

          It is easy for the Brexit camp to say that “countries will want to sell to us and we will want to sell to them” but at what extra cost to us? The WTO calculate £9bn more on our imports and our exports would be hit by £5.5bn in tariffs.

          reply What nonsense! WTO gas lowered tariffs. Germany, our main trade partner in the EU is not going to yes the very limited flexibility to put up tariffs under WTO rules, as the main I’ve is a 10% tariff on cars!

  3. Dame Rita Webb
    May 25, 2016

    1982 The Falklands War and the UK armed forces uphold international law and liberate the islands.

  4. Dame Rita Webb
    May 25, 2016

    JR here is another one. The Slavery Abolition Act became law in 1833. The Bill of Rights also became an Act of Parliament in 1689. I thought you were not a victim of state schooling?

    Reply I won a free place at a Direct Grant school. The Glorious Revolution was in 1688, followed by the Bill of Rights. The abolition of slavery came after the legislation. I have put in both points as well to my text to satisfy you.

  5. Lifelogic
    May 25, 2016

    Yes the current odds 2/11 remain and 4/1 leave are now even more strongly suggesting that Cameron and Osborne’s lies and “project fear” aided by the hugely biased BBC are succeeding with their absurd propaganda.

    It seems the British not only will be slaves, but will even vote to be slaves.

    The case for leaving is overwhelming. The politicians I respect are all on the leave side, the slippery/dishonest ones I dislike nearly all for remain.

    Why would any one want to follow dreadful, historically proven wrong, career politicians like Cameron, Osborne, Major, Clegg, Brown, Blair, Balls, Soubry, Rudd, Javid, Hammond, Fallen and the rest….

    You would surely have to me mad. But mad it seems a majority are. If tax payers money can be used to con people so easily then is there much democracy now anyway?

    You pay you licence fee to the BBC (under the threat of the criminal law) and then it is just used to con you.

    It will be the blatant bias of the BBC and the lies & propaganda from the government that will have conned the voters once again into voting for serfdom, the end of democracy and a far poorer future.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 25, 2016

      The BBC just now in typically biased form posed the question – is the economic damage of leaving a price worth paying? There assumption is absurd there is not economic price of leaving quite the reverse.

      We move to free trade, deregulate, have a nimble and more democratic government, acting in UK interest, we move to selective only immigration and energy prices can halve.

      We will be economically and democratically far, far better off especially in the long term.

    2. Lifelogic
      May 25, 2016

      I still think reason will prevail and that leave will prevail. This as leave voters are more likely to vote, but it does look rather dire. Project fear and the dreadful bias of the BBC does seem to be winning over logic & reason.

      1. Lifelogic
        May 25, 2016

        What reason is there to vote remain anyway? A better deal will certainly follow a leave vote anyway. How could in not be better given the pathetic offering Cameron “negotiated”.

        If we vote remain they will just walk all over us, even more than they do now.

      2. Bob
        May 26, 2016

        Have you seen the EU Referendum Debate at Reading Uni between Eddie Izzard and Dan Hannan?

  6. sm
    May 25, 2016

    I would add England’s very major role at the Congress of Vienna, the results of which – through amazing diplomacy – brought decades of peace to Europe.

    1. Mitchel
      May 26, 2016

      Peace between the great powers,largely due to the Holy Alliance,but lots of revolutions!

    May 25, 2016

    Areopagitica 1644 by John Milton. It is a defence of free speech. I place this in first place

  8. Mike Stallard
    May 25, 2016

    Have you read ibn Khaldun recently?
    Or Spengler?
    We are finished. We have given up. We are the people with the pink ships in the Odyssey.
    God, Church, Monarchy, schools and universities, manufacturing, making money freely, not being lied to and accepting it as fact, having children and living in permanent families – all history.
    We are just decadent offshore island soon to be Airstrip One of the European Union.
    Watch and see what happens on 23rd June.

  9. Wonky Moral Compass
    May 25, 2016

    That’s quite some list, but to be frank I’m much more worried about the current Battle for Britain.

    It also strikes me that we were rather less lonely back in 1940 as then we were supported by our Commonwealth friends plus others who shared our cause and respected our values. The dozens of Polish and Czechoslovakian pilots, for example.

  10. Antisthenes
    May 25, 2016

    The two nations that have in recent centuries sort to dominate Europe France and Germany are on the verge of succeeding. The EU concept was to ensure that that dominance would not occur through conflict and the unintended consequence has been that it has happened by peaceful means. The UK was the stabilising factor that thwarted the ambitions of both those two nations. Inside the EU the UK is shackled and can no longer exert the influence it has to keep those two countries in check as the rules of the EU are loaded in their favour.

    Being inside means the UK is being denied the freedom it needs to compete and influence and to use it’s unique abilities and heritages in a way that that brings the UK the most benefits. We are now working as much for maybe more for other states benefit as our own. We are in fact being used and exploited.

  11. alan jutson
    May 25, 2016

    Whilst historically our history may show great achievements, unfortunately we are now in a World where people take much of what they have for granted, and forgetting the sacrifices of those who lived in the past.

    We now have a far more independent and selfish Society than in the past, even though for many their whole existence is paid for by others.

    Unfortunately anyone aged under 45 cannot remember anything other than the UK under
    EU control, and have no idea as to how an independent UK may manage their own affairs, which is why the remain side are using fear tactics, and why “leave” should be making a much better, clearer and positive case.

    Other than on this site and the recording of the odd debate and meeting, the leave case has not been outlined or co-ordinated very well at all.

    One or two Politicians on the leave side are in the public eye from time – time, Farage is doing his best, and is probably best understood by the masses, Hannan is excellent when involved, but afraid Boris just seems to bluster along.

    Certainly the broadcast media (probably the most influential) are doing their best to limit any real or proper debate with endless interruptions and so called expert interpretation.

    Can only hope the next four weeks can produce some better results for the leave argument.

  12. Cheshire Girl
    May 25, 2016

    I’m afraid that I cant add anything to your list (but others may), as I think you’ve covered pretty much all of our achievements. I often wonder what our ancestors would think if they were alive today, of so many of our Politicians who say we could’nt ‘go it alone’. It often seems that all their efforts and sacrifice has been for nothing, if we are to be told what to do by others. We are an Independant people, and have much to be proud of. Instead we are constantly told of the things we have done wrong, and how we mustn’t ‘ cast ourselves adrift’ .
    The arguments for staying in the EU are being couched in monetary terms. Well, in my opinion, there is much more to it than that. Our confidence is being eroded by constant warnings of the dire consequences of leaving the EU. How did it ever come to this!

  13. matthu
    May 25, 2016

    I think this would be more relevant to today if we focused on great achievements made since 1900, or even since 1960.

    Rescuing the Falklands.

    Although, in later years, it may be necessary to focus on great promises made.

    “We will reduce net immigration to tens of thousands a year, instead of the hundreds of thousands.”

    “No more boom or bust.”

  14. eeyore
    May 25, 2016

    Odd you don’t mention the single most important gift of Britain: the successive empires that awed the globe and created the modern world as the flag, the language, the Common Law and the great fertilising traditions of free speech, sanctity of property and personal liberty all followed in the wake of trade.

    Nor the trade itself which built the richest and greatest nation the world has yet seen, full of justified pride in its astonishing achievement, all based on tiny wooden ships in their thousands tying the continents together in a net of mutual dependence.

    But “empire” is among the dirtiest of dirty words now, and the mighty achievement of the poor, patient, much-abused British sailor is all but forgotten. We now look east, toward Europe. Let’s look west again, toward the open sea. Whenever we recollect whom we really are, that’s where we have always found our true destiny.

  15. Hope
    May 25, 2016

    Britain led the first type of globalization of the world in trading. This was achieved by competitiveness, no regulation, innovation in goods that others wanted. Since the WW the state has gradually suffocated industry by over regulation and the EU has taken regulation to another level altogether, this is why the EU is the only area not growing. Gorbachev could not understand why we were trying to get rid of communism and replace it with another form i.e. EU. Blaire thinks he did not give too much immigration to the UK and the bigger picture is for the EU to expand! Perhaps he ought to learn to live and let live. Truly by letting other countries chose their right to self determination even if we do not agree with it. I am sick of immigration and our politicians trying to tell the world how to live. It creates unnecessary wars and people like Blaire (and Cameron) are a menace and ought to be locked up.

  16. Man of Kent
    May 25, 2016

    You might have added 1815 when Wellington led a coalition of Prussians , Brunswickers , Hanoverians , Nassauers etc to defeat Napoleon at Waterloo .

    Incorporated in the British Army was the Kings German Legion who returned home mostly to Hanover once Napoleon’s threat was lifted .

    This led to our distinctive foreign policy of
    – holding the balance of power in Europe
    – trading with the rest of the world
    – befriending the USA .

    which generally held the peace in Europe for the best part of 100 years.

    In 1815 we were not united in our hostility to Napoleon .
    There were many aristocrats and fellow travellers who were deeply upset by our victory at Waterloo. Our problem now is the traitorous leadership of DC and GO compared with that of Pitt to Liverpool who were able to see the dangers clearly and maintained their war aim over nearly twenty years .

    With Brexit we will give an alternative to those nations in Europe who wish to reassert their independence.

    We will be free to do our own trade deals.

    We will be free to be allied to the USA on our own terms, not those of the EU.

  17. Richard1
    May 25, 2016

    Er….wasn’t the abolition of slavery 1807 and the Battle of Britain 1940? Careful or the Leave campaign will again be accused of falsifying facts.

    I think the publication of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith should figure. It was the first rigorously set-out explanation of why commerce between people and nations is not only mutually beneficial but an essential prerequisite for Liberty.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 25, 2016

      Indeed such a shame Gordon Brown, most politicians and so many economists and universities totally failed to understand the book.

    2. forthurst
      May 25, 2016

      “Er….wasn’t the abolition of slavery 1807”

      That was the abolition of the Slave Trade; slavery is perfectly legitimate, even encouraged, amongst some of our more enlightened ME allies including ISIS and its affiliates.

      1. zorro
        May 25, 2016

        It is practiced by them, but I do not think it can be called ‘legitimate’ per se.


    3. zorro
      May 25, 2016

      Tut tut Richard1 – Britons never never shall be slaves – unsupported concept in English law ?

      1807 – Abolition of Slave Trade which abolished ‘slave trading’ within the British Empire
      1833 – Abolition of Slavery within the British Empire


  18. oldtimer
    May 25, 2016

    An excellent list. I cannot, off hand, offer any specific event post 1688 but the next few decades were marked by the start of the fundamental 18thC revolutions in agriculture, science and industry. It was an unregulated world in which people were able to invent and to flourish and surely laid the foundations for the growing prosperity that followed.

  19. Lifelogic
    May 25, 2016

    Talking about the economics of leaving, the BBC make the hugely biased statement:- Whether it (leaving) is a price worth paying is for voters to decide say. But only after the voters have been fed biased drivel like this paid for by the voters.

    The BBC in effect stating there is certainly an economic price in leaving. In fact there is no economic price to be paid, there are huge economic and democratic gains. But the biased BBC keep pushing this line endlessly, to indoctrinate their licence fee payers using their own money to do so.

    1. Peter Davies
      May 25, 2016

      Cant disagree with that, there was an example of this on the news this morning when they were presenting the costs and benefits of EU membership of course forgetting to factor in loss trade deals due to being in the EU, the effect of fisheries, red tape and expensive energy all of which probably dwarf the tangible fees of membership.

      They are very good at putting a positive spin on membership before giving someone on the other side a tiny bit of airtime.

  20. Brian Tomkinson
    May 25, 2016

    Good performance on Today, when you were allowed to get a word in on the main argument rather than the BBC’s diversion. We need to hear more from you please.

    1. Richard1
      May 25, 2016

      It was interesting that at the end of the interview Mr Johnson from the IFS said maybe economic growth could be better in the long run but in the short run it will be worse – he was not saying it would be but admitted the point was up for debate.

      I am surprised Leave haven’t made more of the 5 Presidents’ report. I have just read it. It is a clear blueprint for federalism with a banking union, a euro treasury, and central oversight of labour social and tax policies. A question to those voting Remain is have they read it and do they like its vision for the UK? If yes then fine that’s understood, if no then at what point should the UK get out?

      Reply That is why I highlighted it here at some length and forced a Parliamentary debate on it.

  21. Mark Hodgson
    May 25, 2016

    A bit Anglo-centric. How about the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320?

    1. Mitchel
      May 25, 2016

      Is no-one going to mention the arrival of the good ship Windrush in 1948?


  22. Mark Hodgson
    May 25, 2016

    The Welsh Declaration of defiance in 1282: “They would nevertheless be unwilling to do homage to a stranger whose language, customs and laws are totally unknown to them.”

    1. Yosarion
      May 25, 2016

      Yeh have to agree, come 2066 we will have been under the Norman Yoke for 1000 years in one guise or another.

  23. Alex
    May 25, 2016

    The slave trade was abolished in 1807, a much more altruistic and important Act than the abolition of slavery in 1838. The Battle of Britain was in 1940… Otherwise a great list to be very proud of. Our international achievements under the EU? Not so much…

  24. David Murfin
    May 25, 2016

    You miserable conventional historian!
    Isaac Newton, George Stephenson, Clerk Maxwell, Michael Faraday, Charles Darwin, Ernest Rutherford, Alexander Fleming, John Logie Baird, Paul Dirac, Watson and Crick, Tim Berners-Lee,
    I trust you know what these all did? They really have changed the world. Imagine it without their discoveries. (I’ve included a Scot or two, and a New Zealander working in Manchester)

    1. Qubus
      May 25, 2016

      JJ Thompsom, Clerk Maxwell, Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin, Harry Kroto …

      1. Qubus
        May 25, 2016

        Frank Wittle, Alan Turin …

  25. Bill Caldwell
    May 25, 2016

    Is it possible to move away from speculation in the EU debate and look at some basics – why would we continue to tie ourselves with a concentration of badly performing economies, hamstrung by the Euro, and not look to have our own trade agreements, without EU restrictions, with economies outside of the EU, most of which are doing reasonably well? Why continue to be forced into a cabal of basket case economies when there are better prospects elsewhere?

    1. Lifelogic
      May 25, 2016

      Indeed, the reason is, it seems, that is suits the establishment, the bureaucrats, most politicians and some very large multinational companies (with lots of money to buy political “consultants” to slope the laws in their favour).

  26. libertarian
    May 25, 2016

    Its not just about geo politics either

    How about the Industrial revolution , invention of steam power, electric motor, telephone, TV and radio, commercial computers , jet engines , stainless steel, carbon fibre and the world wide web ? etc etc etc

    The greatest failure of centralised bureaucracy based organisations such as the EU is the destruction of creativity and innovation

  27. Bert Young
    May 25, 2016

    The past has always had an important bearing on the present and future ; those who ignore it do so at their peril . I recently watched the European Swimming Championships ; some of the times recorded were splendid . Each time a final was held the result was compared to World and previous Championship records – the individual competitors always strived to do their best and improve on the past . Nations were compared to others in the medal table .

    The character we have as a nation has been built on the past ; our laws , our personalities , standards in schools , traditions , sense of humour and attitudes all reflect what went on before . As a nation we can be proud overall of what we did and achieved and what we set as an example to the world .

    Our individuality should not now be subsumed into the morass of the EU ; what it has done – or rather tried to do , will not be a patch on our history . Watering things down is no way to set standards and records ; we must go our own way . Taking part in the Championships is one thing and keeping our own identity is another .

  28. Denis Cooper
    May 25, 2016


    “Germany suggests 10% of EU budget for refugees”

    The government should say whether we will be chipping in to this, and if so why.

  29. Shieldsman
    May 25, 2016

    Who does Magabe Cameron represent, Conservative MP’s 163 to remain and 130 to leave.
    The PM has hi-jacked as leader of the governing party the leave the EU campaign. He has spent £9.3 million of the Electorates money on a propaganda leaflet of doubtful information,
    Cameron is currently engaged on addressing captive audiences with doom laden forecasts of a highly spurious nature (scaremongering), suggesting they could lose their jobs, the value of their homes and be worse of financially if they vote to leave the EU.
    Lynton Crosby and the ORB pollsters (a sample of 800 persons) are waging pyschological warfare on the leavers, suggesting they are wasting their vote on a lost cause.

    In all this we have lost sight of why we are having the referendum – the EU is not working, and it is our opportunity to get out.
    Despite Cameron’s lies the EU is still not working and is getting worse by the day.
    What is going on in the EU, orders are out to ignore it.

  30. Mr Sakara Gold
    May 25, 2016

    Whist I very much enjoy reading your blog (and it is one of the best UK political commentaries, far better than Guido) actually I do not find your Brexit arguments at all persuasive. It is very easy to look at the past, when Britain had a near monopoly on world trade, was a world leader in maufacturing during and after the industrial revolution and was known as a Great Power and feel nostalgic and yearn for a return to the colonial era. But it’s not possible to turn the clock back!

    Sadly, we lost the industrial base that supported export-led manufacturing during the Thatcher and Major years, which cannot be blamed on the EU in spite of your protestations to the contrary. We have not had a balance of payments surplus since 1979 and this is the cause of many problems for Chancellors of all political leanings.

    The problems facing the UK have their origins in political decisions taken decades ago to break trade unions by destroying their industries, squandering N Sea oil revenues by paying people to sit at home and watch daytime TV instead of building ships, mining commodities, manufacturing aircraft, heavy electrical motors, industrial chemicals, boilers etc. Selling off profitable state owned industries which contributed massively to the exchequer and loading the treasury with stupendous quantities of debt was not a good move.

    I think we should remain in the EU so that our elected representatives can fight our corner in the councils of the EU, using our veto where necessary and do what we can to revive our manufacturing base so that we can make and sell stuff that the foreigners want to buy

    During these years the Germans, French, Italians and even the Belgians found ways to support their manufacturing bases, they had far sighted political leaders such as Helmut Schmidt, Georges Pompidou and Sandro Pertini. We had Thatcher, Major, “market forces” and “there is no alternative”

    Reply My case for leaving is not based on past glories but on future potential, as my other blog pieces make clear.

  31. PaulDirac
    May 25, 2016

    This is about the government tactics – stage management of the economic looming disaster after Brexit
    The penny dropped (for me) today, how come we get a drip of these announcements, roughly two a day from completely different and unconnected bodies, why are we not getting say 10 one day and nothing for another few days.

    The answer is as obvious as Newton’s (legendary) apple, the whole thing is stage managed and timed by the government, there is a schedule and these Stay bodies have a slot in which they appear on the stage, say their words and bow off.

    1. Peter Davies
      May 25, 2016

      And if you repeat a lie enough times it will eventually be accepted as the truth

    2. John C.
      May 25, 2016

      If what you say is correct, we can presumably await the really dramatic bombshells in the middle of June. What can they have in mind worse than they produced already? Or have they bumbled onstage and said their lines too early?

  32. zorro
    May 25, 2016

    My reference to Praemunire in the previous blog ties in with JR’s mention in point 3. What the IN crowd are doing mainly in the persons of Cameron/Osborne is conspiring to subjugate us to a foreign power…..


    1. Denis Cooper
      May 25, 2016

      Correct. Related to treason but not a capital offence.

    2. zorro
      May 25, 2016

      point 2 actually sorry!


    3. hefner
      May 29, 2016

      “In Britain, the moment an investment bank gets close to a family-owned company, it encourages it to float on the Stock Exchange, paving the way for a take-over by a foreign competitor, with the bankers taking a hefty commission for both transactions, and the national interest the loser”.

      Does this remind people of things, which started to happen in the ’50s, but furiously accelerated around 1980 and have since not really abated?
      And who was involved? Only the EU?
      If it is only the EU’s fault, one would have to explain how big continental countries have lost much less than the UK to foreigners.

      After Brexit, one might want to know that there exists some road-map(s) to reverse the desindustrialisation trend.

      (BTW, the citation is from”The Slow Death of British Industry, 2013, N. Comfort).

  33. formula57
    May 25, 2016

    1822 The world’s first first automatic computing machine invented by Charles Babbage.

    1969/1976 Creating the world’s first supersonic airliner Concorde, jointly with the French.

    1982 Falklands Islands conflict – standing up for the principle of self-determination and slapping down a dangerous, opportunistic dictatorship.

    1984-5 Standing firm to defeat the “enemy within” as Scargill’s miners attempted to hold the country to ransom in a political strike.

    (Under 10, there is a transcription error in the date I think – 1940 is needed.)

  34. Bob
    May 25, 2016

    Is it true that Mr Cameron has barred the pro Brexit Tories from access to the Vote Source database in order to hobble them and provide the Remainers with an unfair advantage?

    1. DaveM
      May 25, 2016

      No answer Mr R? Your party loyalty is truly touching.

      Another day of deafening silence from the official Leave campaign. Where are they? I would have thought that MPs as passionate as our host would have despaired and gone rogue by now.

  35. Denis Cooper
    May 25, 2016

    Off-topic again, “debt campaigners” whine that the Greek government will have to wait a couple of years before other eurozone states indirectly assume more of its debts:

    “The International Monetary Fund is coming under fire from debt campaigners this morning.

    They’re disappointed that the Fund has abandoned its commitment to “upfront” Greek debt relief as part of last night’s deal.

    Instead, medium-term debt relief will only kick in around 2018 – and the details are still

    Sarah-Jayne Clifton, Director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, says this isn’t acceptable:

    “IMF staff are proposing to lend more money to Greece without the upfront and unconditional debt relief they called for. This is a major climb down, which once again breaks the IMF’s own rules not to lend when they know a debt cannot be paid.”

    Last night, the IMF’s Poul Thomsen agreed that the Fund had made a ‘major concession’, in order to reach a deal.

    In return, all creditors agreed that Greece’s debts are unsustainable, paving the way to debt relief over time.

    Clifton though, insists that action is needed now.

    “Eurozone finance ministers cannot keep repeating this pattern of sticking plaster measures followed by near defaults and all night crisis meetings for the next 40 years. Only significant cancellation of Greece’s debt now, including payments coming due now such as to the IMF and ECB, will help tackle the humanitarian crisis in the country and restore the lack of confidence which is holding back Greece and the wider European economy.””

    (words and ref left out ed) Christien Lagarde
    who now tells us that if we leave the EU we will precipitate global economic meltdown – but for some the illegalities just aren’t happening fast enough.

    It’s a pity that little of this gets through to the voters in the UK unless TV shows Greeks rioting on the streets of Athens, and even that has largely lost its impact.

  36. Anonymous Coward :-)
    May 25, 2016

    And yet 300 prominent historians have written a letter warning voters that if we choose to leave the European Union on 23 June they will condemn Britain to irrelevance.

    English history is let’s say, selective. We remember the Spanish Armada of 1588, but we forget the English Armada of 1589, where the Spanish repelled the attacking English fleet.

    And I don’t think many people would see the lesson of World War 2 as the UK should be isolationist. It was through an alliance (the Allies) of nations that we won.

  37. Stephen Berry
    May 25, 2016

    John’s list, perhaps understandably, leans towards politics. Let’s redress the balance a little.

    1. Whether the main credit for the development of steam locomotives goes to Richard Trevithick or George Stephenson, it’s clear that the invention and initial development of the passenger railway is a British achievement.

    2. Charles Darwin, a British naturalist, was the first person to propose the massively influential theory of evolution by natural selection and common descent.

    3. Most popular sports in the modern world trace their history to Britain. The most notable being football, cricket, rugby and tennis.

    4. The world’s first publicly demonstrated television was displayed by British inventor John Logie Baird in 1925.

    5. Whether we give the credit to Fleming, Chain or Florey, it’s clear that the invention and early development of antibiotics took place in the UK. Probably saved hundreds of millions of lives worldwide.

    6. Last but not least. English is the official language of more countries worldwide than any other, and the most common second language globally. English is generally used as the language of choice at global events and international summits.

  38. Steve Harper
    May 25, 2016

    1. Magna Carta 1215 – setting out why every man should be free under the law, innocent until proven guilty, and why the King should have to take advice from others.

    Signed after a civil war, which the barons won after the intervention of the French.

    2. 1533 Statute in restraint of Appeals. England peacefully shakes off foreign legal controls and jurisdiction by Act of Parliament, asserting independence

    A law forbidding any appeals to the church in Rome which paved the way for “The Act of Supremacy” which enabled Henry VIII to impose an unchallenged tyrannical dictatorship.

    3. 1588 Defeat of Spanish Armada England stands up to the European bully power of the age and wins despite large imbalance in populations and wealth

    A victory won, in no small measure, with the assistance of the Dutch and the weather.

    4.1623 Publication of Shakespeare’s First Folio – colossal literary and cultural achievement

    Give you that one.

    5. 1688 Glorious Revolution and Bill of Rights – Parliament establishes proper controls over executive government and the King

    Are you serious here John??? William of Orange (the clue is in the name) was Dutch and “the Glorious Revolution” was the result of an invasion by his Dutch army.

    6. 1805 The UK defeats France and Spain at Trafalgar, starting to lift the threat of domination of the continent by force of arms by the allied powers.

    I think you’ll find that France wasn’t actually defeated until 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo, which we only won with the help of the Germans.

    7. 1837 The UK abolishes slavery and offers the example to the rest of the world

    Agreed, this was a good thing, although for some reason it was not applicable to territories controlled by the East India Company, so establishing the principal that private enterprise should be able to do what it likes – no matter how repugnant. No wonder John likes it.

    8. 1851 The Great Exhibition demonstrates the brilliance of the UK industrial revolution
    This was the exhibition in which the standards of design so appalled Prince Albert that it directly led to the establishment of the Royal College of Art and the Victoria and Albert museum (where budding designers could learn from examples of art and design excellence from around Europe)

    9. 1928 Equal votes for all women and men

    Took us long enough. France and Switzerland managed it in 1848.

    10. 1941 A lonely UK wins the battle of Britain which starts the liberation of Europe from Nazi domination.

    The Battle of Britain was won in 1940 – the balance being tipped with the considerable assistance of Czech and Polish squadrons.

  39. The PrangWizard
    May 25, 2016

    We should indeed be making more of our own abilities; reflecting that our major accomplishments were achieved when we were free, and that we are capable of more in the future were we to be free and independent, and in control of our own affairs again.

    I find it depressing to listen to those who talk about our dependency on the EU. The Tory MP for Newberry, Richard Benyon has stated his position that we should not have clean rivers were it not for the EU, and one of the newspaper reviewers on SKY tv this morning was saying that we wouldn’t have the employment and other rights we enjoy were it not for the EU. Both these assertions have defeatism at their heart.

    I don’t know if they are so pro-EU that like the PM they are prepared to say anything, but I fear it goes further than that, they and others seem to have lost belief in themselves and their fellow countrymen. They cannot seem to entertain the idea that we could well have done all this and more for ourselves. We certainly would not have presided over the destruction of our fishing industry for example, an EU policy which has wildlife destruction at its centre.

    Whilst once we were proud, self reliant and independent and a happier people, and achieved much and set standards which others were to follow, the malign influence of the EU, its media supporters, and our education system have between them sapped the spirit of many, taught a revisionist view of our history and promoted guilt and subservience instead.

    It is a sad reflection that society and the nation has become so weakened, that we as a nation are considered by many as weak and unable to fend for ourselves, and it will take some effort to counter this. We must be careful not to so look back however that we forget to look forward.

    If we stay in the EU our future is bleak, only a Leave Vote can achieve our rebirth.

  40. Steve Reid
    May 25, 2016

    As a firm supporter of Remain I hope to hear more of this sort of flag waving, self congratulatory tripe, with little regard for the economic challenges and realities of the 21st century, from the Brexit camp in the last few weeks of the campaign.

    1. Trevor Butler
      May 25, 2016

      Yes flag waving – I could never wave that dreadful blue thing with stars on it with any conviction – I have more in common with Cromwell than I ever will with any quasi Marxist, internationalist, multiculturalist that wants to do Great Britain down at the expense of democracy – Hope you are looking forward to Napoleonic law – It won’t be long coming if you get your way…

    2. Iain Moore
      May 25, 2016

      The economic challenges that we will face in the 21st century will require a Government that is responsive to events, making sure we have the right incentives and right legislation to ensure we are well placed to take advantages of the opportunities.

      Of course this rules out any association with the EU being a institutionally sclerotic organisation, that takes decades to respond to events, and an organisation which is locked into the past by the treaties that created it, that are beyond the ability of anybody to reform them.

      If the EU was the future it would be a place of opportunity, but it isn’t, for it turning large chunks of Europe into an economic waste land. Where there is more EU there is more blight, that reality is somewhat difficult to get around!

    3. Edward2
      May 25, 2016

      Not so much flag waving tripe as you put it, more a reminder of how this country is powerful, important and a world player.
      We are focussing on just Europe
      There is an exciting world out there. One which the UK is good enough to negotiate its own trading arrangements and thrive.
      The EU and the Eurozone nations in particular is a group of countries with low growth, high unemployment, huge youth unemployment and a falling share of world trade.
      Yet its a club you support and want us to renew our membership.
      The EU has had decades to negotiate a trade agreement with USA and as yet has failed to achieve one.

    4. Narrow Shoulders
      May 25, 2016

      On the contrary.

      It is because of the challenges of the 21st century where globalism reigns and our leaders are subservient that we occasionally need to remind ourselves of the potential within.

    5. David Price
      May 26, 2016

      The EU wishes to deconstruct the countries currently making up the EU and it semes their special attention in this regard is focussed on our country. It is well to continually remind our politicians that they are supposed to represent us and not aim to get comfortable in the warm embrace of the EU. Injecting a bit of backbone and reminding them of what this island is capable of without the guiding hand oif the EU would be timely.

      I have no motivation to solve economic challenges for the EU that are of their own making as a result of their attempts at political union.

  41. Kev
    May 25, 2016

    Interesting article but not precise in every detail. UK was not much smaller than today for most part of its history after industrialisation as you have claimed. British empire had literally ransacked all of its colonies. But I agree prople were poor as any money generated from the colonies did only benefit the establishment, the monarch the lords and the land owners.

    How dare you say UK was lonely in war against nazis in Battle of Britain. Did you not read that 595 pilots did help RAF, they were Polish, New Zealanders, Belgians, French, etc.

    Shame that even highly educated people are distorting the facts to convince others that their argument is valid.

    1. Martyn G
      May 26, 2016

      After the fall of France, Britain did in fact stand alone in leading the fight against the Nazis – note, leading the fight – whilst the rest of the world watched on. Of course, commonwealth countries also geared for war but in 1939-40 but there were many hundreds if not thousands of individuals from other countries who came to join us from the USA, the commonwealth and by escaping from their countries having been or about to be overthrown by the Nazis. The point is that they were individuals, not nations – and not just pilots, for many other brave individuals in recognising that Britain alone represented the only chance of defeating the Nazis also came to join us in the fight. For example, trawlers and their crews who escaped from the Netherlands came here and became mine sweepers in our harbours and estuaries, freeing the RN for other war work. John’s comment that we stood alone is correct and in no way disparages those individuals – not nations – who came to join Britain in the fight in the early years of WWII.

      1. Kev
        May 26, 2016

        “A lonely UK”, that’s the key word that’s misleading. UK could not do anything during WWII if there wasn’t any help from people of other nationalities. Claiming that it was only British people who fought against nazis is absolutely wrong and a big lie.

        Hopefully the free people of this country will show that misleading politicians do not represent their country in general.

  42. brian
    May 25, 2016

    Not enough people, especially the young, know these things.

  43. Atlas
    May 25, 2016

    Indeed so John.

    Isn’t it about time that Leave countered Cameron’s frightening of voters – especially women – of the risks of leaving, by emphasising the risks of remain. Clearly frightening voters works, so ‘what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’.

    Unlike in “Tom Brown’s schooldays” it seems that we have to play by Flashman’s rules in this Referendum.

    1. Chris
      May 25, 2016

      Suzanne Evans has written a very convincing article about how Brexit would be good for women:

  44. Athelwulf
    May 25, 2016

    Battle of Britain was 1940. A typo, perhaps, JR

  45. Ian Dempster
    May 25, 2016


    I would add Habeus Corpus. It is still available for use today.


    1. Lifelogic
      May 25, 2016

      Not really, with the EU and US arrest warrants in play. You might be lock up for years while they ponder your case, even if you are totally the wrong person.

  46. Vanessa
    May 25, 2016

    All very noble and true but the rule of law no longer has any clout in the 21st century. No criminal (who I regard as criminal) has been tried in a court of law or gone to gaol. The Bankers are still at large earning their billions, the politicians lying through their teeth, the civil servants dreaming up fake reports, the police treating Britons as if we are criminals but immigrants getting away with murder – and the list goes on and on. What is the point? When the European Court of Law (or justice!) overrides British Courts the world has gone to Hell in a handcart.

  47. Dennis
    May 25, 2016

    Alistair Darling and others say that the UK should not turn it’s back on the rest of the world. Surely being in the EU does just that.

    Being out of the EU turns us towards the rest of the world. This seems obvious to me – am I wrong?

    1. John C.
      May 25, 2016

      The argument that Remain is fond of producing- that being in the E.U. gives Britain a say in deciding the future- is the one that annoys me more than any other, when it is so clear that we have no say at all in the running of the E.U., and are always outvoted.

  48. Athelwulf
    May 25, 2016

    Numerous inventions including:
    1940s Jet engine – Sir Frank Whittle [also in Germany]
    1990 World Wide Web – Sir Tim Berners Lee

    1. Colin Hart
      May 25, 2016

      Whittle took out his patent in 1930. The Germans only got going in 1935 and there is evidence they had access to much of Whittle’s work thanks to Air Ministry incompetence.

      And there I was thinking Al Gore invented the internet.

  49. Mitchel
    May 25, 2016

    “For true blissed out and vacant servitude,though,you need an otherwise sophisticated society where no serious history is taught”.Thus wrote Christopher Hitchens in his brilliant essay”Goodbye to all that;Why Americans are not taught history” from 1998.

    An essay which he begins with a quote from Huxley’s Brave New World :-

    “You all remember,”said the Controller,in his strong deep voice,”you all remember,I suppose,that beautiful and inspired saying of Our Ford’s:History is bunk.History,”he repeated slowly,”is bunk”.

    “He waved his hand;and it was as though,with an invisible feather whisk,he had brushed away a little dust,and the dust was Harappa,was Ur of the Chaldees;some spider-webs,and they were Thebes and Babylon and Cnossos and Mycenae….whisk and those specks of antique dirt called Athens and Rome,Jerusalem and the Middle Kingdom….all were gone…..”That’s why you’re taught no history”the Controller was saying”.

    Remember a few years ago,on that US chat show,Mr Cameron claimed he did not know the meaning of Magna Carta.

  50. DaveM
    May 25, 2016

    Mr R, this is exactly the angle that needs to be pressed from now on. The economy’s been done, immigration’s been done.

    Articles are starting to emerge everywhere, mentioning superstates, the five “presidents'” report, etc. Once they’ve made quite clear the intended direction of the EU, the Leave campaign needs to start asking the question;

    Do you want to be a UK citizen or a citizen of the USE?” Simple. Upcoming events will aid massively in the patriotic argument.

    Reply Yes, we get there in the end. You may remember I first raised the 5 Presidents Report on this site, then in the Commons, but got no traction with media. At last we have break through on these big democratic issues.

    May 25, 2016

    Off Topic: The Treasury Committee Tuesday 24th May 2016

    Given the poor performance of the Treasury Committee, as a whole, in the recent questioning of the BoE and the Committee’s joint “acceptance” of some quite laughable positions taken by the four BoE members present, I feel that if it is within the rules of the Committee and Parliament,- that the following people should be invited as paid Questioner Guests for further questioning of the BoE:-

    Mr R Cass, Ex-BNN broadcaster, now of Canada’s Nest Wealth;
    Mr A. McCreath, present BNN presenter and co-founder of Canada’s Forge Asset Management and,
    Mr J. Cramer, CNBC presenter, accomplishments too long to list.

    In my opinion (words left out ed)In reality Mr Carney and the BoE would not answer the questions they were asked in the same lamentable manner or substance if these three I name were present. They would not dare.

  52. Know-dice
    May 25, 2016

    Thought for the day…

    EU Double Whammy

    How many companies would give money to their competitors to enable them to fund products in competition to themselves?

    As a net contributor to the EU, that is exactly what the UK is doing.

    We though our subscription to the EU, are directly financing our competitors in other countries, such as agriculture in Spain in direct competition to our farmers in the UK and the workers those farmers employ.

    As I say “EU Double Whammy

    1. Lifelogic
      May 25, 2016

      Indeed and who wants to pay taxes and licence fees only to have them used to pay for pro EU propaganda and blatant lies. But with this Tory leadership and the BBC that is what you get.

  53. Denis Cooper
    May 25, 2016

    We’ve had Cameron cancelling everything he said on the subject in the past by declaring that it’s not remotely on the cards that Turkey would be able to join the EU before the year 3000, and therefore that is not an issue for this referendum, and now we have some Labour MP declaring that an EU army is absolutely not on the cards and therefore that is not an issue for this referendum … any lie which they hope will pass muster will do for supporters of the EU, whatever their political complexion.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 25, 2016

      I think Cameron forgets everything he says, about ten minutes after he says it and just says whatever he thinks will con the people listening to him at the time
      He even seems to think he will “keep” cutting taxes!

  54. Martyn G
    May 25, 2016

    Could not agree more with you, John but the relentless output of the BBC for remain (including IMF predictions of deepest financial gloom if we exit) is getting always into the headlines.
    Even channel 4 is at it now – I watched a very professional video of best to remain focused on showing that remain will make our children and grandchildren safer, more secure and financially better off by remaining with the wonderful, loving and helpful EU. Why the Brexit people cannot do the same I know not – what are they actually spending their money on? Unless they get their collective act together we are very likely doomed to remain chained to the EU and when that happens the UK is going to be treated harshly I suspect. Best go out and buy a spare 3Kw kettle before they, too, are banned. Oh, and a powerful toaster if one can still be found.

  55. The Prangwizard
    May 25, 2016

    Can someone ask the Chancellor if, in view the danger he and the PM forsee, he is advising overseas companies not to invest here.

  56. Beecee
    May 25, 2016

    A centralised ID for every citizen of the EU. A common Corporation Tax policy for every Country in the EU.

    It is a pleasure to see Mr Cameron’s reforms of the EU working for all our benefit.

    I also heard Gideon fail to answer where all the new houses will be built to accommodate the 3 million extra residents in the UK as envisioned in the Treasury 2030 paper.

  57. Simon Platt
    May 25, 2016

    Can’t say I agree with you about the 16th and 17th centuries – rather a bad period for Britain, I’m afraid. And as for the “Glorious revolution” – invasion by a continental usurper hardly made for a good day for British sovereignty.

    I’d like to hear more from you about the IFS report.

  58. Longinus II
    May 25, 2016

    Stayers will be interested in:

    23 June 2016 – Freedom Day (End of the EU)

  59. agricola
    May 25, 2016

    Yes is the answer to your last sentence.

    I find it very sad that the concept of trading together to avoid the catastrophes of the first half of the 20th century has been turned by ambitious politicians into a formula for repeating those catastrophes. Without their political ambition it could have become a second commonwealth of independent cooperating nations. All the cross border cohesion could have been there minus the compulsion. All too sad.

    1. David Price
      May 26, 2016

      I agree completely.

  60. Chris
    May 25, 2016

    John Redwood in Parliament on our puppet government:

    Very sad, and indicative of the concern of other MPs, that so few seemed to be present at the debate.

  61. John C.
    May 25, 2016

    You end your triumphant list with a comment about “our ancestors”. An ever decreasing proportion of people in this country share these ancestors, so how can they feel proud of them? If I moved to Italy, could I look at how my country contributed so much art and music to the world?

    1. David Price
      May 26, 2016

      Do people only come here for the real estate, or is it the society and culture that attracts them? I would hope and expect it’s the latter so it is as well to understand and appreciate the strengths and costs in particular that influenced the evolution.

  62. John C.
    May 25, 2016

    Quite right, but it’s always people’s financial self-interest that decides how they will vote. Sad, but true.

  63. Iain Gill
    May 25, 2016

    It is the middle/upper class view of history, I would have added some of the things ordinary working people achieved pretty much on their own. Racism and sexism may be frowned upon but class based prejudice creeps into all aspects of our life and I for one am getting sick and tired of it. And this from a right winger…

  64. A different Simon
    May 25, 2016

    11) The U.K. transitions it’s the former colonies of it’s Empire to independence with the minimum amount of bloodshed and turmoil .

    The newfound independence is celebrated by neutral countries yet when Briton’s seek to declare independence , the World and the British Establishment tell them it’s bad .

  65. Bill
    May 25, 2016

    How about Areopagitica by John Milton arguing for the Liberty of Unlicenced Printing, in 1644

    Or the works of Dickens?

    Or James Clark Maxwell on electricity and magnetism

    Or the discovery of Penicillin by Alexander Fleming?

    Or the work of Rutherford on the atom?

    Or the maintenance of several world-class universities?

  66. turbo terrier
    May 25, 2016


    When the position of Prime Minister and Chancellor was so degraded the position became forever tainted.

  67. fedupsoutherner
    May 25, 2016

    With a list like this John and other contributions from others on this blog we should be proud to be British but the antics of our current government is making me feel the opposite. How can such a successful nation stand by and let their so called leaders allow other nations to ridicule us and put us down? When we think of the sacrifice of all those young men in the Battle of Britain, Cameron and Osborne are a disgrace. I just hope the polls are wrong like they were in the last general election. I don’t know many who are intending to vote IN. Most are fed up with the EU, fed up with Cameron and his scare tactics and fed up with Americans telling us what we should do. Lets’ get some great British pride back and some backbone and vote OUT. Another great post John. I wonder how you can bear to serve in the same government as Cameron and Osborne.

  68. fedupsoutherner
    May 25, 2016

    Perhaps another great achievement we could list in the future would be

    2016 – The year that the Brits voted OUT of the EU. Hurray.

  69. Colin Hart
    May 25, 2016

    A few things we have given the world:

    Cricket, Rugby Football, the codification of the rules of Association Football (1863) and riding to hounds.

    Institutional achievements:

    The NHS – though it is a mystery why no one else has seen fit to adopt the same model.

    The BBC – a state broadcaster that is both popular and independent (for better or worse).

    An unelected second chamber.

    Food and Drink:

    Real Ale, Roast Beef and Yorkshire, Black Pudding, Melton Mowbray pies and Cornish pasties.

    Some of this may seem frivolous but they all underline the point that we are different from our continental neighbours and they are all different from one another. Which is why the experiment of trying to weld them all together into one political union is doomed to failure.

    Let our great gift for the 21st century be to show that there is another way to go and that we can all still live peacefully together, trade with one another and work together without needing to be so bound together.

  70. Androcles
    May 25, 2016

    It should be pointed out that the abolition of slavery and votes for women were both opposed by the business establishment, and many politicians, on the grounds that they would cause an economic disaster. It is a good job that we no longer have political and business elites that put their own self interest above the common good.

  71. Anonymous
    May 25, 2016

    I am told repeatedly that waverers are put off by the tone of the Brexit campaign.

  72. Ken Moore
    May 25, 2016

    I suspect these events mean little to David Cameron. Like Mr Blair he is ashamed of his countries past and endorses Blairs view that England is ‘a new country.
    Both despicable creatures.

  73. David L
    May 25, 2016

    I have yet to receive the Government propaganda “Remain” leaflet that I have so generously had to pay towards. Hence how can I possibly come to an informed conclusion that I should vote to stay in the EU? I feel snubbed by my own Government, therefore I have no choice but to vote “Leave”.

  74. Lindsay McDougall
    May 26, 2016

    And the necessary prelude to the Glorious Revolution was chopping King Charles I’s head off. That is why there is a statue of Oliver Cromwell outside parliament.

  75. Dominic
    May 26, 2016

    An excellent list, and it is good to see the foundation of the NHS (which is the only thing our country has ever done that socialists are proud of) not on it.

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