Deprived of my citizenship

It looks as if I am to be deprived of my European citizenship. I have always regarded it as a privilege to become and remain part of Europe.

I cannot forget how important it was to heal the wounds that tore Europe apart in my lifetime and that no argument about the details was more important than the central idea.

As a nation, however, we have never made the whole-hearted commitment and that has been a tragedy both for us and for the countries sharing the vision.

Inevitably Germany and France were going to dominate in the absence of a strong UK, fully involved at all levels. How different it could have been if we’d shaken off the illusions of our imperial past and fully engaged with the ‘foreigners’, picked up their languages, learned from the best of their institutions, understood how and why they so valued our common aim. And then there is the sheer selfishness of our decision.

How much damage are we inflicting on our neighbours?

Have we started a process whereby the whole community is weakened or even unravelled by our defection? It does not occur to us to care.

Immigration from outside the UK has little to do with Europe and, indeed, if we are now to embrace the ‘greater opportunities’ afforded by the world outside the EU, it is likely to increase.

Without the fears generated by the refugee problem throughout Europe, we might not have had this knee-jerk reaction. Goodness knows we took in far fewer than anyone else.

I mentioned our imperial past. This is now coming back to haunt us.

Many European countries have their colonial legacy but ours is by far the greatest.

It has been a source of great pride but we are barely aware of the responsibilities that flow from it.

The flood of desperate people from Africa and the Middle East alone can be traced back mainly to our fatal involvement in their countries, over the past century.

Our education system flags up the Normans, the Tudors and the World Wars.

Over the next decades I predict that historians will be very hard on us and our Empire.

We shall come to recognise the great failures as well as the successes that have fed into our story as a nation.

Peter Rice, High Street, Chilgrove