Now that the hostilities over London’s mayoral elections are subsiding, the moment of truth will be June 23, when Britons will decide whether the United Kingdom will abandon the European Union, driving the temperature of the debate up to white heat. And while the latest polls indicate a country divided, it was revealed who among David Cameron’s speechwriters studied history at the university, forcing him to a furious, and perhaps superficial, refresher.
In a speech at the British Museum on Monday, which was attended by David Miliband, the Blairite who was beaten — by his brother Ed — in the race for the Labour leadership six years ago, Cameron warned that abandoning the E.U. would have harmful consequences for maintaining peace in Europe. So harmful that it would not only threaten the peace and stability of the U.K., but would lead the continent to the brink of a third world war. Ergo the true patriot, in the peroration of the prime minister, will vote to remain.
Stealing the idea of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the E.U. (a foolishness perhaps surmounted only by the proposal to confer it to the Internet, as some digital ultras were still arguing seriously until recently), Cameron has strung together a series of examples taken from history, ranging from the fall of the western Roman Empire to that of the Berlin wall, without, of course, omitting the due references to Waterloo, pro-Europe pleading and post-1945 Winston Churchill. All designed to demonstrate the need to remain within the E.U.