There is, between you and us continental Europeans, a disagreement which is turning ugly. Your immense history justifies a limitless admiration for you. You were the inventors of democracy and of human rights, you dominated the world for centuries, first ruling the oceans and after that the world of finance. And when apocalypse threatened, your courage and tenacity – you held on long, American and Russian help arriving late in the day – saved our honour and freedom.
We know this and we have never shied away from saying, including in this commemorative week, that we owe you an immense debt. This should not, however, allow you to treat us with contempt and double-dealing.
You do not like Europe – that is your right and it is understandable. You nevertheless joined 41 years ago, but on a misunderstanding. You never shared the true meaning of the project which Winston Churchill, speaking on your behalf, set out in Zurich in 1946 with his incredible words: “We must build a kind of United States of Europe … Great Britain, the British Commonwealth of Nations, mighty America – and, I trust, Soviet Russia … must be the friends and sponsors of the new Europe and must champion its right to live.”