What is Historians for Britain?
Historians for Britain exists to give a voice to those among Britain’s historians who want to see fundamental changes made to the terms of our EU membership. We are independent and non-partisan academics, involving people from all parties and no party. As a campaign, we aim to reflect the views of all types of historian, ranging from academics and tutors who are at the front line of new historical research to popular historians who excel in communication. The campaign is represented in the media and at events by real historians. Historians for Britain will ensure that the British people understand that many historians want a better deal from Brussels and are not scared to fight to achieve that change.
Who’s behind the campaign?
Historians for Britain is led by its Chairman, Professor David Abulafia, and a strong Board of successful historians, including: Dr Sheila Lawlor, Dr Andrew Roberts, Dr David Starkey and Professor Brian Young.
Who else is involved?
Dozens of Britain’s leading historians have already joined Historians for Britain’s campaign for a return of powers from the EU to the UK.
A full list of our supporters is available at:
Do you agree with us?
“As historians and academics, we endorse the demands for a better deal between Britain and the EU. Though we are historians from many political schools of thought, we agree that Britain has developed traditions and practices which are peculiar to our shores. From the ideas of Common Law and parliamentary sovereignty to the struggle for greater democracy and fairness, Britain’s values form the rich fabric of our history and inform our lives today.
However, it is ever clearer that the terms of Britain’s EU membership are undermining these values. New taxes which penalise Britain’s historic financial and mercantile trade, the disregard for the decisions of voters and refusal to allow the people of Europe a greater say over their governance are antagonistic to British values. The brutal reality of “European Union” is manifesting itself in the Mediterranean where EU economic policies have wrecked lives and are now fanning the flames of aggressive extremism.
For this reason, rather than out of national or racial prejudice, we support in principle renegotiating Britain’s EU membership so that Britain has a looser, freer relationship with the EU. Before thinking about leaving the EU, we must see if the British Government can change our membership to protect Britain’s values.
Renegotiation is not just in Britain’s interests. The EU desperately needs to reform itself. Over several decades it has arrogated to itself powers and responsibilities that should belong to the national governments that form the Union. No one has adequately explained the ‘European Project’ that the politicians and bureaucrats who advocate ‘ever closer union’ would like to impose on the member states. This is unacceptable.
Britain has joined, adapted and even left various bodies and alliances over the centuries as circumstances changed. With the continuing problems in the Eurozone and the Commission’s determination to impose further integration it is time for Britain to seek a better deal and put this to the people in a referendum.”
What makes you different from the other groups involved in the EU debate?
Historians for Britain is a campaign run by historians for historians to demonstrate that the country has nothing to fear from renegotiation and to give historians a voice in the debate. Existing groups either do not have our academic focus or argue that Britain needs to leave regardless of what happens. We are campaigning on behalf of historians for a renegotiated deal with the EU reinforced by an In/Out referendum.
Are you supporters of any one political party?
We are a cross-party campaign by historians, for historians representing all parties and no party.
You talk about renegotiation, but isn’t your campaign really about leaving the EU?
What unites supporters of Historians for Britain is an agreement that the status quo in our relationship is not working and that the Government is right to seek a new deal for the EU and the UK’s terms of membership. Instead of pushing the debate to the extreme corners of In vs Out, we should be having a sensible discussion about what is right and what is wrong in our current arrangements. Resisting renegotiation and denying people a say will push public sentiment further towards Out and fast-track an EU exit.
But is renegotiation realistic?
We believe strongly that a negotiated large change in our relationship with the EU is highly achievable. To get that large change, we need to bring to the negotiation clarity of purpose, and a strong, united will. And we will only get that change if we are prepared to vote to leave the EU if our objectives in the negotiation are not met. But if we get the change we need, we won’t need to leave.
Professor Abulafia is the Chairman of Historians for Britain and has been Professor of Mediterranean History at the University of Cambridge since 2000 and a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge since 1974.
Dr Lawlor is the Director of Politeia and in addition to her historical work has written on numerous political issues.
Dr Roberts is one of Britain’s best known historians and has written best-selling books on numerous topics. His latest work is Napoleon the Great, a biography of Napoleon I.
Dr David Starkey is one of the most popular historians in the UK, having written several best-selling books on the Tudors and the British Monarchy. He has also presented numerous historical documentaries and frequently comments on current affairs.