27 July 2016
We have become in these islands an extended family that does not know itself
In 1930, Winston Churchill said: “The compass has been damaged. The charts are out of date.” He was speaking as a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the aftermath of the Great Crash of 1929.
I recalled those words after the EU referendum as our individual and collective imaginations began to play with the pitfalls and possibilities in what will be a long adjustment in the UK’s geopolitical and geoeconomic positions in Europe and the wider world. In terms of post-2016 charts and compasses, the only certainty is uncertainty.
Shortly after the Brexit vote, at Westminster I fell into conversation with Sir Nicholas Soames, veteran, Conservative MP and Churchill’s grandson. “It’s the end of the post-war settlement,” he said. An intriguing point. As a child of the early post-war years, his assessment set me thinking. The post-1945 grain has been pretty consistently in the direction of European integration. In 1947, the year I was born, the US Secretary of State, George Marshall, came up with his plan for the reconstruction of Western Europe.
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