Last Wednesday, 9 May, was Europe Day. If celebration of this day here in Britain passed you by then you might enjoy Winston Churchill’s Zurich Speech in 1946, calling for a United States of Europe.
In this seminal speech, Churchill said,
“If Europe were once united in the sharing of its common inheritance, there would be no limit to the happiness, to the prosperity and glory which its three or four hundred million people would enjoy.”
He called for a “sovereign remedy” to Europe’s troubled past and said,
“What is this sovereign remedy?
It is to re-create the European Family, or as much of it as we can, and provide it with a structure under which it can dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom.
We must build a kind of United States of Europe.”
As a half-American, who had travelled extensively in the place he referred to as “the Great Republic” and having imagined that in slightly different circumstances he might have been a Congressman rather than an MP, Churchill would probably have had a clear idea about the constitutional structure implied by “United States”.
In case there is any doubt as to whether Churchill imagined British participation in the project, he said,
“The first step is to form a Council of Europe.”
Three years later in Strasbourg, Churchill spoke as a member of the Council of Europe:
“We are meeting here in this new Assembly not as representatives of our different countries or different political parties but as Europeans marching forward.”
The Strasbourg speech (full text here) was as influential as Zurich in leading to 9 May 1950, the first Europe Day, when Robert Schuman announced a plan to create a Coal and Steel Community, leading to the European Economic Community in 1957.
I think our school children should learn more about Winston Churchill. I am sure all the newspapers would agree.
* Antony Hook is prospective MEP for the seat currently held by Sharon Bowles MEP (number 2 on the South East list).