I’ve just returned from a visit to Vienna – a wonderful city to explore for an amateur historian like myself.It means that, over the years, I’ve travelled virtually to all of Europe’s capital cities and thoughts about our wonderful continent generally inspired me to write this entry on my blog.

Let’s stop being so negative about Europe and our place in it: concentrating so much on the costly bureaucracy of Brussels, the difficulties of the Euro or the attempts by some to forge an ever closer union.

Instead, let’s remember how Europe, the beacon of civilisation for several hundred years, tore itself apart in two terrible world wars – the result of rampant nationalism sadly once again on the increase today.

We should remember the enormous achievement of the French and the Germans and indeed the other smaller states in burying the hatchet  in the 1950s and creating a common cultural  bond.

To suggest that we can stand apart from Europe by leaving the EU is a nonsense. Britain’s place in it has always been essential to hold the balance of power – think of Louis XIV or Napoleon in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, quite apart from the Kaiser or Hitler in the 20th.

What we should remember is that belonging to the Union is not just an economic concept but primarily an emotional thing: a commitment not just to never going to war again but that we belong to the finest politicial club in the world! We should speak up for it loudly and clearly and I wish those in public life who support the Union would do so more vigorously during these contentious times.

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