Now that the object of leaving the EU has been achieved it would be appropriate to hold a roll call of those who took an active part in this decades long fight.
We all know the villains of the piece, starting with that arrogant patrician Harold MacMillan who, recognizing that those of his class were losing control over Britain, sought to hand power to a foreign power, rather than see the plebs take over. He was ably assisted, and indeed surpassed, by that despicable deceiver Edward Heath, who we are told, looked out from his boyhood home of Broadstairs towards France, and concluded that we must join the Continentals. One assumes that, had he been born on the Isle of Lewis he would have wanted to join Iceland, or Greenland.
Heath's accomplices in the campaign to submerge the UK into the federal European state are well known, Kenneth Clarke, Michael Heseltine, and Geoffrey Ripon being examples. Later we had those such as Geoffrey Howe, and of course all were supported by a motley collection of bureaucrats, bankers and big businesses, who saw in the appointed bureaucratic rulers of the putative single state a perfect means of advancing their interests without any consideration of nonsense such as democratic accountability. The Labour party, after years of opposition to the idea succumbed when Neil Kinnock became leader, their surrender to Brussels being confirmed when that weasel Blair was Prime Minister. The list of those on the left who have since taken a knee to the EU is lengthy, from the Liberal Democrats, who nailed their colours to the federalist mast decades ago, and cannot now change course, the Greens, who foolishly, despite all the evidence to the contrary, believe that the EU is environmentally friendly, the SNP who took leave of their senses years ago, demanding independence from Westminster, in order to then hand it to Brussels, and, worst of all, the Labour party and the trade unions, who cling to the insane notion that the capitalist club of the EU is somehow good for working people.
Turning from these morons the list of those heroes who fought for an independent Britain is long, and distinguished. Over the decades among elected politicians on the Left there were, inter alia, Clement Attlee, Hugh Gaitskill, Douglas Jay, Peter Shore, Tony Benn, David Stoddart and Michael Foot, while on the Right Enoch Powell, Sir Richard Body, Christopher Gill, John Redwood, Bill Cash, Iain Duncan Smith and Daniel Hannan, plus many others. Of course we must not forget Boris himself, and those members of the current government who are sincerely supportive of our post Brexit future, such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, Priti Patel, Rishi Sunak, Michael Gove and George Eustice. Those such as Liz Truss, who voted Remain, but now support Brexit, are welcome as converts, but are not really worthy of being part of the pantheon of true believers, as when one has changed one's mind one way, who knows what may happen in future. The Vicar of Bray comes to mind.
However much honour is owed to those ordinary people who provided the foot soldiers who did so much to bring the truth to the British people in such organisations as The Anti Common Market League, the Campaign for an Independent Britain, the Democracy Movement, Labour Euro Safeguards Campaign and many other groups who worked hard in the face of hostility and ridicule to win the day. Of course I must mention UKIP, without whom we would not have seen the major parties crumble, and grant the referendum. Founded by Dr Alan Sked and Gerrard Batten, and including those with whom I am proud to say I shared the first NEC, such as Nigel Farage, Craig Mackinlay, John Harvey, David Wilkinson and my wife Bernadette. Later the Referendum Party attracted even more to become activists, while I recall meeting the leader of the old Liberal party, whose members were totally opposed to participation in the European project. The arrival of the Brexit party provided the final impetuous, as Eurorealism became basically unstoppable. I must mention Derek Bennett, whose creation of the Eurorealist Bulletin ensured publicity for the cause, as well as personally contributing so much to the efforts of UKIP in his area. Others, among many, deserving praise are Pam Barden, Flora Jenner and Josephine Wilkins, all of whom have passed on, as have Reg and Betty Simmerson, who even went to prison for their belief in freeing the UK from the EU.
There are a number of myths concerning to whom credit is due for the eventual success of the cause which must be addressed.
In 1975, when I, and others, were delivering leaflets asking people to vote to leave the European project Mrs Thatcher was campaigning to stay, attacking those such as myself, claiming that "they would like us to insulate ourselves from the rest of Europe and isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. Membership of the community protects us from abnormally high prices and ensures us access to sufficient supplies at reasonable cost. To take a gamble of leaving Europe would be reckless in the extreme.". While, like the shepherd in the parable, who rejoices when one lost sheep is found, we recognize that Mrs Thatcher came late to the fight, but she never really understood the extent to which so many leading Conservatives had sold out to the interests of Brussels, a failure which eventually cost her the premiership, when they lined up to stab her in the back.
Some newspapers now claim to have helped us to victory, and perhaps in 2016 they did, but it was a different story back in 1975, as then most of the media were cheerleaders for remaining. Typical was the Daily Mail, which carried a headline ”A day in the life of Siege Britain. No coffee, wine, beans or bananas until further notice”. The Daily Mirror declared on its front page "A Day in History: Great Britain goes into Greater Europe", while the Daily Express said "Super-Market: It's a three to one poll for Europe Yes". Those constant supporters of everything foreign The Guardian hailed it as a tonic for the UK and a tonic for Europe concluding "In Europe, Britain's future will be more prosperous and more secure.. the result is a watershed successfully crossed". Locally in Kent, the Kent Messenger said "the county had 'special interest' in the outcome and from the beginning supported the Britain in Europe role and still does. We hope and believe the people of Kent will vote yes".
Of course I am not one to gloat, but I would just say to all these idiots who wrote these opinion pieces ”We were right, you were wrong. We won, you lost. Thanks to you, and the political class, we spent nearly fifty years in an organisation which undermined our economy, very nearly destroyed out democracy, and all but reduced this country to the status of a province. Try educating yourselves about the facts before commentating on anything in future”. Of course, while many of these papers have now realised their mistake, the one media outlet which supported Brussels then, and still does now, is the BBC, an organisation that needs root and branch reform, with a total clear out of the biased presenters and commentators.
Any comparison between 1975 and 2016 as far as the aftermaths are concerned is invalid as, while those of us opposed to involvement with the EU project did indeed, after the earlier vote, continue to work for disengagement, we did not say that the people who voted to stay were ignorant, fascists, guided by the Russians, or any of the other insults the Europhiles have directed at us over the past four years, as they sought to declare the result illegitimate. Contrary to many claims, before the result was announced the latest referendum was deemed to be decisive, not advisory, while the winning side achieved a majority which exceeded the combined populations of Sheffield, Leeds and Newcastle, hardly, as some try to claim, a close run thing.
I am currently reading a book about developments in Russia since the end of the Soviet era entitled.”Putin's People”. Although it is interesting, and certainly makes clear that we must be wary of Russian ambitions, the authoress also, without explicitly stating it as a fact, implies that the Brexit referendum was greatly influenced by Russian money, and influence, over members of the British political class. This myth is of course a favourite among Remainers, but it is an insult to the British electorate, whose good sense saw through the lies of the pro EU commentariat, and voted for what they believed in, not what they were somehow told to believe in. I know that I was convinced of the need to have nothing to do with the European project even before Heath lied his way in, and I know from personal acquaintance with such Eurorealists as Peter Shore, Tony Benn, David Stoddart Sir Richard Body, Alan Sked and Nigel Farage, that they were equally sincere in their opposition to Brussels, not needing promoting from Moscow.
Finally I refer to the words of two of the titans of the 20th Century who saw the truth, and to whom our political class should have listened, rather than to the siren voices of Brussels.
General de Gaulle knew the British better than the politicians who claimed to represent them and, when rejecting the British entry into the EEC he summed up the reality. ”England in effect is insular, she is maritime, she is linked through her interactions, her markets and her supply lines to the most diverse and often the most distant countries; she pursues essentially industrial and commercial activities, and only slight agricultural ones. She has, in all her doings, very marked and very original habits and traditions”.
Winston Churchill must have the last word. Europhiles try to claim that he was a federalist but no one who has read all his works, listened to his speeches or observed his actions could doubt that he would always have rejected submerging his beloved country into a European state.
”We have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked but not combined. We are interested and associated but not absorbed. If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea”.