As historians of Britain and of Europe, we believe that Britain has had in the past, and will have in the future, an irreplaceable role to play in Europe. On 23 June, we face a choice: to cast ourselves adrift, condemning ourselves to irrelevance and Europe to division and weakness; or to reaffirm our commitment to the EU and stiffen the cohesion of our continent in a dangerous world.
As historians of Britain and of Europe, we believe that a British withdrawal from the European Union would irretrievably damage Britain’s position in the world and undermine for decades to come the stability and coherence of what would once again be a divided Europe.

For centuries, Britain has played a central part in shaping Europe’s political and economic evolution, whether through the rich patterns of cross-Channel trade and cultural exchange, through participation in Europe’s wars, or in diplomatic efforts to secure peace. In 1945 Britain was the only European country able to bring to much of Europe the values of democracy and the rule of law that war and dictatorship had torn up. This legacy of liberation still underpins our standing in Europe and the world.

Europe today – including Britain – faces more and greater challenges than at any time since 1945. They include climate change, a Russia falling back into the muscular mindset of nineteenth-century nationalism, the crisis in the Middle East and its repercussions in our own societies, and the need to regulate banks to prevent a repetition of 2008. None of these challenges originated in Europe; none can be solved by pursuing narrow national interests. On the contrary: to meet them, Europeans need to pool their collective resources, and that includes a British commitment to sustain the ideal of a free Europe that was fought for across the past century. There exists a structure for European states to co-operate: it is called the European Union. It is still a relatively young and imperfect structure, subject to the competing and often conflicting interests of its member states. But it is the only structure we have.

A British exit would weaken that structure. It would deprive the EU of one of its largest and most prosperous member states. It would encourage other states to threaten their own exit if narrow national demands are not met. It would encourage regional separatisms within Europe. Given the dangers it currently faces, Europe cannot afford this kind of splintering and with it all the dangers of national rivalry and insecurity that bedevilled Europe’s history before 1945.

We believe that British values, in particular the struggle for greater democracy, social justice and economic security, are wholly compatible with the values of our European partners. Sometimes Britain had led Europe in the assertion of these values; at other times other European states have been ahead of us. We learn from one another and have always done so.

As well as a community of values, the EU is a single market of 500 million people that accounts for 45 per cent of the UK’s overseas trade. Not all of its rules suit us; but not all suit the French or the Germans either. That is the nature of any partnership. Within the EU, we have the chance to shape the single market to further our interests as an exporter of services. Outside the EU, we will face rules made despite or even against us. The claim of the Brexit camp that Europeans and other foreigners will jump to attention and accept, in double-quick time, whatever trade arrangements we dictate to them is a pernicious delusion, born of a flawed and arrogant perception of our position in the world.

By all means, then, press for reform of the European Union to make it more flexible, less bureaucratic, more responsive to its electorates. But this has to be done from within, not from the margins where the Brexiters’ ‘Little England’ would confine us. The United Kingdom has always been at its greatest when fully engaged with Europe, at its weakest when it has preferred to shuffle away. Let our country now reaffirm its commitment to our continent.

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University of Westminster

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University of Oxford

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Brunel University

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Royal Holloway University of London

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Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna

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King's College London

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London School of Economics and Political Science

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Royal Holloway University of London

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University of East Anglia

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University of Oxford

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University of Oxford

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University of Liverpool

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University of Nottingham

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University of Reading

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Canterbury Christ Church University

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King's College London

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University of Leeds

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Swansea University

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University of Manchester

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University of St Andrews

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Manchester Metropolitan University

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University of Manchester

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Queen Mary University of London

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University of Glasgow

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University of Birmingham

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University of Leeds

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University of Manchester

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University of York

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Swansea University

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University of Oxford

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University of Kent

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Queen Mary University of London

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London School of Economics and Political Science

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University of Manchester

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University of Manchester

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University of Durham

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Royal Holloway University of London

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University of St Andrews

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Professor Ben Kaplan
University College London

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Dr. Alexander Kazamias
University of Coventry

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Dr. Paul Keenan
London School of Economics and Political Science

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Dr. André Keil
University of Durham

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Univesity of Essex

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University of Sussex

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University of York

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Professor Sir Ian Kershaw
University of Sheffield

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University of Oxford

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University of Leeds

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Professor Tim Kirk
University of Newcastle

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RMC Sandhurst

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New College of the Humanities

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University of Cambridge

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University College London

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Dr. Lucy Kostyanovsky
King's College London

Religion, culture and politics in England's 'long Reformation'

Dr. David Kynaston
Kingston University

British social history since 1945

Dr. Daniela La Penna
University of Reading

Wartime and post-war Italian and European intellectual history

Dr. Lars Laamann
School of Oriental and African Studies

Late imperial China

Robert Lacey

History of the British monarchy, and of Saudi Arabia

Read article

Dr. Zoë Laidlaw
Royal Holloway University of London

History of the British Empire

Dr. Daniel Laqua
Northumbria University

19th and 20th century European history: transnational movements and international organisations

Dr. Simone Laqua-O'Donnell
University of Birmingham

Gender History, Reformation History, the Holy Roman Empire

Dr. Christoph Laucht
Swansea University

Britain, Europe and the United States in the Cold War

Dr. David Laven
University of Nottingham

Italy, late eighteenth century to Fascism.

Professor Tom Lawson
Northumbria University

Holocaust and genocide studies

Professor Keith Laybourn
University of Huddersfield

Twentieth-century British social history

Dr. Jo Laycock
Sheffield Hallam University

Modern Armenia and the South Caucasus - conflict, displacement, humanitarianism.

Dr. David Lederer
Queen Mary University of London

Reformation and Counter-Reformation in Germany

Professor Catherine Léglu
University of Reading

Medieval French and Occitan literature

Dr. Athena Leoussi
University of Reading

Ethnicity and Nationalism, especially in C19 Europe; the representation of national identity in art

Dr. Mark Levene
University of Southampton

Genocide in the age of the nation state

Professor Carl Levy
Goldsmiths, University of London

Comparative European history and politics: modern Italy

Professor Dominic Lieven
University of Cambridge

Russian history

Dr. Kevin Linch
University of Leeds

War, society, and culture in Britain 1688-1840; The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars

Dr. Suzannah Lipscomb
New College of the Humanities

The social and political history of Tudor England

Professor John Lonsdale
University of Cambridge

African colonial and postcolonial history: Kenya

Professor David Looseley
University of Leeds

French cultural history, popular music & cultural policy

Dr. N.P. Ludlow
London School of Economics and Political Science

Western Europe since 1945; Western Europe in the Cold War

Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch
University of Oxford

The history of Christianity: the British and European Reformations

Read article

Professor Simon MacLean
University of St Andrews

The Carolingian Empire

Dr. Alan MacLeod
University of Leeds

C20 British history; intelligence services; Northern Ireland

Dr. Jenny Macleod
University of Hull

First World War, commemoration, and cultural identity

Professor Joe Maiolo
King's College London

History of 20th century International Relations

Professor Patrick Major
University of Reading

20th century German History

Dr. Stephan Malinowski
University of Edinburgh

Europe and the wider world in the twentieth-century 'age of extremes'

Dr. Andrea Mammone
Royal Holloway University of London

20th century Europe, especially Italy: fascism & the far Right

Read articles

Dr. Philip Mansel
Institute for Historical Research, University of London

Court Studies; France and the Middle East; 19th-Century Courts and Cities

Dr. Irina Marin
University of Leicester

Central and Eastern European history

Dr. Ben Marsh
University of Kent

The Atlantic world c.1500-1800: social and economic history

Professor Kate Marsh
University of Liverpool

Post-1754 French history and literature; French colonial and regional history

Professor Ian McBride
King's College London

Modern Ireland: the eighteenth-century British Isles

Dr. Claire McCallum
University of Exeter

Soviet history

Dr. Iona McCleery
University of Leeds

Medieval Iberian History; history of medieval medicine

Dr. Una McIlvenna
University of Kent

Early modern cultural and literary history

Professor Rosamond McKitterick
University of Cambridge

Europe in the early middle ages

Dr. Natalie Mears
University of Durham

Early modern British history, especially the Elizabethan era

Dr. Jamie Medhurst
Aberystwyth University

British social and cultural history in the 20th Century; Broadcasting and Society

Dr. Heidi Mehrkens
University of St Andrews

C19 Europe: history of political culture

Dr. Charlotte Methuen
University of Glasgow

The sixteenth-century Reformation, especially in Britain and Germany

Dr. Jessica Meyer
University of Leeds

Gender, particularly masculine identity; the medical history of war and conflict

Dr. Esther Mijers
University of Edinburgh

The seventeenth century: Scotland, Britain, the wider world

Dr. Chris Millington
Swansea University

Modern European history: twentieth-century France

Dr. Christopher Minty
The Adams Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society

C18 colonial British America

Dr. Simon Mollan
University of York

British overseas firms; business history and imperialism; the City of London

Dr. James Moore
University of Leicester

Modern Britain: urban history, political culture, anti-corruption movements

Dr. Paul Moore
University of Leicester

Modern German history

Dr. Renaud Morieux
University of Cambridge

Franco-British relations in the eighteenth century

Dr. Marc Morris

Medieval English history

Dr. Mary Morrissey
University of Reading

Literature and theology in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England

Professor Iwan Rhys Morus
Aberystwyth University

The history and culture of Victorian science

Dr. Eloise Moss
University of Manchester

Politics, society, and culture in Modern Britain since 1800

Professor Frank Müller
University of St Andrews

Modern European History, especially C19 Germany and Britain

Professor Steve Murdoch
University of St Andrews

Scottish and British relations with Scandinavia and Northern Europe 1560-1750

Professor Philip Murphy
Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London

Commonwealth History

Dr. Rory Naismith
King's College London

The history of money in early medieval Britain

Professor Jinty Nelson
King's College London

Early medieval Europe, including Anglo-Saxon England

Dr. Matthias Neumann
University of East Anglia

20th century European history: Russia in revolution

Dr. Erik Niblaeus
University of Durham

Europe in the central middle ages

Dr. Laura O'Brien
Northumbria University

The cultural, social and political history of modern France

Professor Glen O'Hara
Oxford Brookes University

British economic and social policy-making since 1918

Read blogs

Dr. Paul Oldfield
University of Manchester

The Medieval Mediterranean, 1000-1300

Dr. Sue Onslow
University of London

British politics and foreign policy 1945-1990; decolonisation

Professor Thomas Otte
University of East Anglia

Diplomatic History

Read articles

Professor David Parker
University of Leeds

Early modern French history

Dr. Helen Parr
University of Keele

Modern British history, particularly post-1945

Professor Senia Paseta
University of Oxford

Modern Ireland

Dr. Caroline Dodds Pennock
University of Sheffield

Aztec and Spanish American history and the Atlantic world

Read article

Dr. Andrew Perchard
University of Coventry

Business, politics and society: the geopolitics of natural resources

Dr. Óscar Perea-Rodríguez
University of Lancaster

Anglo-Iberian Relationships in the Middle Ages

Professor Andrew Pettegree
University of St Andrews

Refugee communities, religious history, and the history of communication

Professor Geoffrey Plank
University of East Anglia

The European colonization of the Americas

Dr. Benjamin Pohl
University of Bristol

Normandy and England, c. 1000-1400

Dr. Will Pooley
University of Bristol

France since 1789, working on popular culture, folklore, and witchcraft

Dr. Jane Potter
Oxford Brookes University

Book and Literary History, esp. First World War

Professor Daniel Power
Swansea University

France and England in the Central Middle Ages; medieval frontier societies

Dr. Virginia Preston
King's College London

Contemporary British History

Dr. Robert Priest
Royal Holloway University of London

Modern European cultural history, especially France and Germany

Dr. Christopher Prior
University of Southampton

Britain and the British Empire in the late 19th and 20th centuries

Professor Huw Pryce
Bangor University

Medieval Wales; historiography of Wales; medievalism

Dr. Pierre Purseigle
University of Warwick and Trinity College Dublin

The First World War

Dr. Alejandro Quiroga
University of Newcastle

Spanish history, especially the twentieth century

Dr. Luc Racaut
Newcastle University

The French Wars of Religion

Dr. Michael Rapport
University of Glasgow

The French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars: 1848

Professor Richard Rathbone
Aberystwyth University and SOAS

African history, especially colonial & postcolonial history

Professor James Raven
University of Essex

Transnational and global communications and culture since 1500

Dr. Nicole Reinhardt
University of Durham

Early modern European political culture, particularly in Italy, France, Spain and Portugal

Professor Glenn Richardson
St Mary's University, Twickenham

Early modern England and continental Europe

Dr. Charlotte Riley
University of Southampton

C20 Britain: the Labour Party, aid and development, and decolonization

Dr. Linda Risso
University of Reading

History of European integration; defence policy; NATO

Dr. Levi Roach
University of Exeter

Western Europe (especially England and Germany) in the early and high Middle Ages

Professor Keith Robbins
formerly University of Glasgow and University of Wales, Lampeter

Modern British History

Dr. Edward Roberts
University of Liverpool

Carolingian and Ottonian Europe, c.750-1000

Professor Marie Roddet
School of Oriental and African Studies

West Africa, Gender, Slavery and Emancipation, Migration

Dr. Sarah Roddy
University of Manchester

Modern Irish and British social, economic and religious history

Professor Maria-Jose Rodriguez-Salgado
London School of Economics and Political Science

Anglo-Spanish relations, C16-C17

Professor Lyndal Roper
University of Oxford

Early modern German history: the history of witchcraft

Professor Eve Rosenhaft
University of Liverpool

Modern German history

Dr. Anna Ross
University of Oxford

Modern Germany and Spain and their global entanglements

Dr. Nadine Rossol
University of Essex

C20 German history, social and cultural history, police history

Professor Alison Rowlands
Univesity of Essex

Early modern Germany; history of witch-persecution; gender history

Professor Guy Rowlands
University of St Andrew's

Late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French history

Read article

Dr. Jan Rueger
Birkbeck College, University of London

Britain and Germany in Europe and the world, C19-early C20

Professor David Runciman
University of Cambridge

Political thought, late C19-C20

Dr. David Rundle
University of Essex

Cultural links across Europe, C15-early C16

Professor Alec Ryrie
Durham University

The development of Protestantism in 16th and 17th-century England and Scotland

Professor Donald Sassoon
Queen Mary, University of London, emeritus

Comparative European History

Nicholas Saunders
Oxford Brookes University

Britain, France and Europe in the 1950s and 1960s

Dr. Len Scales
University of Durham

Political culture in late medieval Europe

Professor Simon Schama
University of Columbia

Modern European history, especially: C17 Dutch Art; cultural and environmental history; British history

Professor Kay Schiller
University of Durham

Twentieth-century German cultural history

Professor Hamish Scott
University of Glasgow

Professor Len Scott
Aberystwyth University

International History and Intelligence Studies

Dr. Antonio Sennis
University College London

Cultural history of medieval Europe

Dr. James E. Shaw
University of Sheffield

Early modern Italy

Professor Gary Sheffield
University of Wolverhampton

War Studies, especially Britain and WW1

Dr. Adam Smith
University College London

United States history: Abraham Lincoln and the British

Professor Adrian Smith
University of Southampton

Twentieth-century Britain, especially war, sport and aviation

Dr. Andrew Smith
University College London

Centre and periphery in the modern state, especially France

Dr. Chris Smith
University of Kent

20th-century Britain and the Home Front during the Second World War

Professor David Smith
University of Glasgow

Contemporary History of Central and Eastern Europe, Ethnicity and Nationalism

Dr. Edmond Smith
University of Kent

Global early modern history

Dr. Lisa Wynne Smith
Univesity of Essex

Early Modern England and France

Dr. Paul Smith
University of Nottingham

Modern and Contemporary French History

Dr. Michael Sonenscher
University of Cambridge

French History 1700-1848; History of Political Thought

Professor Nicholas Stargardt
University of Oxford

European intellectual and political history from the C19; Nazi Germany

Professor Martial Staub
University of Sheffield

Late medieval European history: the Global Citizen, 1200-1600

Read article

Professor Gareth Stedman Jones
Queen Mary University of London

British and European political thought, 1789-1914

Professor David Stevenson
London School of Economics and Political Science

International History

Dr. Simon Stoddart
University of Cambridge

European Pre-History

Professor Dan Stone
Royal Holloway, University of London

C20 European history; comparative genocide

Dr. Anastasia Stouraiti
Goldsmiths, University of London

Early Modern European History; History of the Mediterranean; History of the Venetian Empire

Dr. Bernhard Struck
University of St Andrews

Europe since 1750: comparative and transnational history

Dr. Anne Summers
Birkbeck College, University of London

Women's history: UK and Europe, C19-C20

Professor Bertrand Taithe
University of Manchester

Victorian Britain; humanitarianism and humanitarian practices

Professor Stephen Taylor
University of Durham

Early modern British history, especially religion and politics

Sir Keith Thomas
University of Oxford

Early Modern History

Read article

Professor Andrew Thorpe
University of Exeter

C20 British history, especially the Left

Mr. D.R. Thorpe, MA (Cantab), FRHist S

C20 British political biography

Dr. Daniel Todman
Queen Mary, University of London

British history and the two world wars

Professor Vanessa Toulmin
University of Sheffield

British social history, especially Victorian entertainment & film

Dr. Thomas Tunstall Allcock
University of Manchester

C20 American history and foreign relations

Dr. Jan Vermeiren
University of East Anglia

Modern Germany; the First World War; the history of the idea of Europe

Dr. Alana Vincent
University of Chester

Theology and the arts; modern judaism; comparative theology

Professor Nicholas Vincent
University of East Anglia

Medieval English history, especially Magna Carta

Dr. Erica Wald
Goldsmiths, University of London

South Asian history, including imperial history

Professor Peter Waldron
University of East Anglia

Modern Russian history

Dr. Malcolm Walsby
University of Rennes

Book History; Renaissance France

Professor Thomas Weber
University of Aberdeen

C19-C20 European and International history; Hitler

Professor Björn Weiler
Aberystwyth University

Kingship in high medieval Europe

Dr. Charles West
University of Sheffield

The Carolingian Empire

Professor Joachim Whaley
University of Cambridge

German history and thought, 1500-present

Dr. Anna Whitelock
Royal Holloway University of London

British history, C16-C17

Professor William Whyte
University of Oxford

Social and architectural history since 1700

Dr. Marc Wiggam
School of Advanced Studies, University of London

War & culture in 20th century Britain & Germany

Dr. Bernard Wilkin
University of Exeter

Military occupations of France in 1870-1873 and 1914-1918; C19 warfare

Dr. Caroline Williams
University of Bristol

Colonial Spanish America; Spanish/British Atlantic World

Dr. Mark Williams
Cardiff University

The cultural, religious, and political history 17th and early 18th century Europe

Professor Justin Willis
University of Durham

Colonial and postcolonial East Africa

Dr. Jon Wilson
King's College London

British imperial and south Asian history

Dr. Nick Witham
University College London

C20 American history, especially protest and dissent

Dr. Sara Wolfson
Canterbury Christchurch University

Early modern British and Dutch history; court studies

Dr. Jamie Wood
University of Lincoln

Early Medieval History, Late Antiquity, Historiography, Violence and Education, Spain, Goths & Romans

Dr. Julian Wright
University of Durham

French political culture and political ideas since 1789

Dr. Kim Wünschmann
University of Sussex

Modern German and German Jewish history

Dr. Francis Young
Catholic Record Society

Early modern English Catholicism

On the right is a collection of statements, and links to documents, that we feel are important in the upcoming referendum on Europe.

The opinions expressed in these pieces are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Historians for Britain in Europe as a whole.

Remain
Sir Keith Thomas
University of Oxford

One doesn’t have to be a historian to see that a decision to leave the EU might well trigger another Scottish referendum and a vote for independence. It would certainly cause grave difficulties for Northern Ireland, by setting up a new barrier between it and the Irish Republic, and endangering the peace process. Brexit, which is overwhelmingly an English rather than a British movement, carries with it the prospect of the Balkanisation and ultimate dissolution of the United Kingdom. That would be a catastrophe and is, for me, a Welshman, in itself a sufficient reason for voting to remain.

But what distinctive contribution can historians offer to the current debate? What can we add that hasn’t already been said? I think we can offer a broader perspective by raising larger issues than those on which the politicians and the media have hitherto concentrated.

First, though, I must make a narrow, self-interested point about what Brexit would mean for the historical profession. We should no longer be eligible for funding by the European Research Council, from whom the UK currently gets more grants in the Humanities and Social Sciences than any other country. We would lose many of the gifted students and academics who come from Europe to British universities. We would have to say goodbye to the easy freedom of movement, access to health care, and long-term residence, on which scholarly work in European libraries and archives depends. This would also affect those undergraduates who currently spend a year on the continent as part of their course; and it would accelerate the decline in the study of modern languages which already threatens to make us a nation of monoglots. All this would be particularly ironic, since British historians, many of them present tonight, have made and are making a disproportionate contribution to the history of Europe. In his book Cosmopolitan Islanders, Sir Richard Evans reminds us of just how many of the standard works on the history of Spain, France, Germany, Italy, and other countries have been written by British scholars. Their work in the future would be seriously impeded by new barriers to their easy coming and going.

The second and larger point for historians to make is that Britain has always belonged in Europe, geographically, politically, economically and culturally... Click here to read the full article

Remain
Professor Richard Overy
University of Exter

In the current wave of anniversaries commemorating the two World Wars it is striking how much emphasis there has been on Britain's contribution to the process of building a free and liberal Europe. It is an important component of contemporary British identity that its soldiers, sailors and airmen fought and died not just to defend Britain, but to ensure that all Europeans should share the prospects of greater economic security, an end to tyranny and a common democratic culture. This was the ideal, popular with broad elements of Britain's wartime population, which accepted the sacrifices made if the promise at the end of the war was a continent cleansed of nationalism, racism and political repression.

The historical reality was rather different. Britain's liberal credentials were compromised by the existence of an Empire in which the freedoms fought for in Europe in two world wars were denied to non-white peoples. British identity until the middle of the last century was schizophrenic: one part composed of the belief that British political evolution represented the progressive development of a free and tolerant society, the other composed of popular memory of centuries of warfare, violent imperialism and national self-assertion. The post-1945 order saw the rapid eclipse and disintegration of the imperial project for Britain and all the other European empires, changing forever the nature of Britain's place in Europe and of British identity. Then the wartime ideal of liberating Europe was undermined by the coming of the Cold War, which divided the continent once again into rival blocs, potentially as dangerous as the ideological confrontations of the 1930s. Few people looking forward from 1945, or even 1985, would have imagined a continent-wide European Union in which national, ideological and racial rivalries had been transcended in a common commitment to shared, economic, social, cultural and security interests.

Britain is an essential element of that new Europe. That strand of historical identity which emphasised Britain's place in encouraging the development of parliamentary institutions, economic freedoms and a tolerant, liberal society is the one that matters, not the memory of military and imperial glories, or the belief that there is something historically unique or special about Britain's past that separates its experience from the rest of Europe. If these values were worth fighting for in ten years of bitter warfare in Europe between 1914-18 and 1939-45, they are worth defending in today's Europe. But that can only be done from the inside. British involvement in Europe is not solely about this or that economic advantage. It represents a commitment to ensuring that the narrow nationalism, ideological divisions, imperial jealousies, economic rivalry and overt racism that plagued the emergence of modern Europe from the late 19th century will never be repeated.

The referendum debate has focused too much on economic fears or advantages that remaining in or leaving might bring. The European project is much more than the sum of its economic, social, medical and security components. Some of those strands that undermined European societies in the 20th century - a self-interested nationalism, racism, social intolerance - are never far below the surface. A British presence in Europe is about ensuring that the core values of free and liberal societies are protected by common endeavour, not as before through occasional violent intervention. The EU is not a perfect system, though it is infinitely preferable to the way Europe looked for much of the last century. But rather than struggling to avoid any commitment to making that union better by leaving it, Britain can sustain that strand of its identity built on its liberal and democratic past by working within the EU to achieve reforms that reflect those traditions.

A British withdrawal from the EU can only be interpreted from outside as a rejection of those traditions, a desire to reinstate a narrow national self-interest in place of a collaboration that has displaced centuries of conflict, a wish to wallow in a sentimental and ahistorical image of Britain's past and a rejection of the belief embedded in the current wave of military commemoration that Britain had, and still has today, something positive to contribute to the evolution of modern Europe.

Article first posted on the History Today website, 18 May 2016, for the journal's June 2016 issue.

Historians Against Brexit Speech

Niall Ferguson
Harvard University

A version of this speech appeared in the Sunday Times, 29 May 2016

A Commonwealth free trade area is neither likely nor desirable

Sir Roger Sanders KCMG

Commonwealth Advisory Bureau

Fog in Channel, Historians Isolated

Various authors

Of over 250 historians who signed this article in History Today (May 2015), many have signed up for Historians for Britain in Europe.

Historians for History: a reply to Historians for Britain

Edward Madigan and Graham Smith
Royal Holloway, University of London

Can Britain be European?

Dr. Emile Chabal
University of Edinburgh

First published in Books and Ideas (June 2015)

'Chasing the tale' of a common European identity

Professor Adrian Armstrong
Queen Mary University of London

Harpooning Ducks: Indegenous Americans, Immigration, and Multicultural Identity

Dr. Caroline Dodds Pennock
University of Sheffield

Originally published on the University of Sheffield's History Matters blog (January 2014).

Boris Johnson's Abuse of Churchill

Felix Klos

Article on History Today website (June 2016)

Brexit: a threat to international stability
Professor Sir Michael Howard
Regius Professor of History (Emeritus), University of Oxford

The essays by 'Historians for Britain' are scholarly and interesting, but unfortunately they show a greater understanding of the past than they do of the present.

The danger is not that, if Britain leaves the EU, Europe will return to the condition of armed bellicosity that characterised the twentieth century and that we shall see a re-run of the two world wars. The world, and the nature of war, has changed too much for anything of the kind to happen.

What is more likely is that Brexit will hasten a process of political, economic and military disintegration that will ultimately destroy the world order that has been painfully created over the past half century, and on which we now depend to deal with the dangers of political and social disintegration that threaten all our societies. These can be checked only by a strengthening, not a weakening, of the institutions that we have created to deal with them.

Historians can notoriously prove anything by reference to the past. However distinguished, they can command credibility only if they can show an equal understanding of the immense global problems that confront us today.

The Copernican revolution in postwar Europe
Professor Beatrice Heuser
University of Reading

Since the Pax Romana - the peace prevailing within the Roman Empire - was crushed by the tides of barbarian invasions, Europe has torn itself apart in internal bickering and balance of power games. Nor was Europe safe when the key powers Britain and the US disengaged from Europe. The European defence integration of 1948 and 1950 initiated a Copernican revolution: in the EU, contentious issues are settled jointly, not against each other, by opposing alliances going to war. Together with NATO, European Defence integration is one of the twin pillars supporting European security. Europe is safer with Britain in the EU, and Britain is safer with peace in Europe.

The Myth of ‘Standing Alone’
Professor Charles Esdaile
University of Liverpool

Over the weekend John Major has amazed us all with the passion with which he has attacked the Brexiteers. Such passion is necessary. The lies and deceit on which their campaign is founded is all the more dangerous because of the desperate ignorance of so much of the British people. A week or two ago I heard a vox pop on the radio in which some workman or other defended his decision to plump for 'out' with the remark: 'We did all right on our own in two World Wars so we can do all right on our own now.' My jaw dropped. Really? And there was me thinking that we were part of major alliances in both, major alliances, moreover, without which we could not have triumphed on our own ... And, as in the two World Wars, so in that other 'Great War' that forms the centre piece of my own research. In so far as I can follow the ramblings of the Brexiteers on this subject, they seem to believe that Napoleon was defeated by Britain standing alone. Wrong again. If Britain defeated Napoleon, she only did so through an alliance with Spain, Portugal, Russia, Prussia and Austria, whilst it is worth noting that two thirds of the troops whom Wellington commanded at Waterloo were not British, but rather Dutch, Belgian or German - also that Wellington's 'infamous army' could never have fought Napoleon at all had it not been for the presence of the rather larger Prussian army of Gebhardt von Blucher. Turning all this around, meanwhile, the two conflicts in our modern history which we indisputably lost - the American War of Independence of 1776-83 and the French Revolutionary Wars of 1792-1801 - were defeats precisely because of the fact that we were bereft of effective allies in Europe. To conclude, then, if there is one thing that out international history shows, it is that splendid isolation is anything but splendid. Whether in the war-war or the jaw-jaw, we need friends in Europe, and we therefore turn our back on Europe at our peril.

Brexit and the threat to our service industries
Professor Guy Rowlands
University of St Andrew's

Sir, It is easy for Lord Bamford to be relaxed about the consequences of Brexit for UK trade because he exports goods (“Brexit boost as business billionaire votes to leave”, June 9). In the event of Brexit trade in goods will likely prove to be a straightforward issue to resolve.

Unfortunately service sectors account for 80 per cent of the UK economy, and future UK prosperity will require us to prise open foreign markets in areas such as law, finance, insurance, information technology, and chains of shops. If we can make progress in completing the EU single market in services then the UK has the opportunity of becoming the services leader of Europe. This is the greatest chance of securing future prosperity for the country and higher revenues for the Treasury that will support our NHS and schools.

] However, if the UK leaves the EU then it is clear to me, as a specialist in French financial and trade history, that France will seek to degrade the City of London. The rest of the UK will also be harmed because the chances of liberalising EU trade in various service sectors, without the UK at the table, will plummet.

Printed in The Times 10th June, 2016

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