a guest Mar 23rd, 2019 328 Never
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- I want to thank you, all of you for being here today. I have indeed been privileged to live long after my allotted 3 score years and 10. I share the passion of the men and women who lived through 3 European wars in 75 years. The passion that it must never happen again.
- Never, never forget, that it was the memories of those wars that laid the foundations of the European Union today.
- I dismiss with contempt the image of us as an island, wrapped in a Union jack, glorifying in Churchill's famous phrase "Very well, alone then."
- I was there - our army was evacuated, our cities bombed, our convoys sunk; and Churchill did everything in his power to end this isolation. He offered France a political union if they would fight on. He begged the Americans for help. It only came after Hitler unbelievably declared war on the United States. He embraced Stalin's Russia when colleagues urged him to spurn it. Alone was never Churchill's hope or wish. It was his fear.
- It was this experience that changed history. Churchill himself called for a kind of united states of Europe. MacMillan told the British people the truth about the emergence of empire into commonwealth, and building on that historic relationship he sought another destiny for us and applied to join Europe.
- Our accession led to Margaret Thatcher's pivotal role in the creation of the Single Market. She insisted that our voice at the table was heard alongside France and Germany. She would have been appalled to see us excluded from the top table, and we saw it so clearly on Thursday. Mrs May's dash across the channel begging bowl in outstretched hand, an interview, excluded from a lengthy meeting of our former partners. The take-it or leave-it offer.
- That is what the Brexiteers have done to our country.
- A national humiliation made in Britain, made by brexit. I look back over the years. 70 years of peace in Europe. 50 years of European partnership. The fascists have gone from Spain and Portugal. The colonels have gone from Greece. Communism hardly features in European politics. 29 parliamentary democracies working together, with power based on a shared sovereignty far in excess of anything any one of us could achieve individually.
- You will say that the forces of the extreme right are on the march again. And you will be right. What is happening here, in America, throughout many countries in Europe is indeed a wake up call to realise just where the financial collapse of 2008 has led us.
- Extremist fingers pointing the finger at all the familiar scapegoats: Foreigners, immigrants, bureaucrats. None of this serves anyone. The uncertainty of brexit simply adds to the problem. It is no solution of any sort, and the Prime Minister herself bears a heavy personal responsibility for our present crisis.
- I was appalled by her speech from Downing Street on Wednesday evening. It will rank as an affront to parliamentary democracy. You know, generals who lose wars blame the troops. Managers who break their companies blame the workers, but now we can add Prime Ministers who lose elections blame their MPs.
- I may be naive, but if something is wrong, I look first at the person in charge.
- I spent 35 years in the House of Commons. Some of the finest men and women I have ever met gave their lives to public service there. Yes, it is divided and that reflects exactly what is happening in every village, in every town, in every city throughout our country.
- The House of Commons is a mirror image of the United Kingdom itself. But the MPs will do their job, and many of them will do it above party loyalty. They will do what they believe to be right. Never forget, that that place is the custodian of our freedoms.
- Never forget the intolerance and indeed worse, that comes from all other forms of government.
- Any deal that parliament can now agree, will inevitably be the lowest common denominator of reluctant compromise. This is no way to chart a nations future.
- One way or another, you the people must decide. You the people, must be free to vote to remain.
- We are here now, on the right side of history. In a shrinking world of global terrorism, international tax avoidance, millisecond communication, giant corporations, superpowers, mass migration, climate change and a host of other threats; our duty is to build on our achievements to maintain our access to the corridors of world power. To keep our place at the centre of the stages of the world. What cannot be in doubt is our responsibility to hand over and pass on to the younger generation, a country richer, more powerful, safer than that which we ourselves inherited and our partnership with Europe, that is our destiny.
- So I say to all of you, to each of you, to everyone: Walk tall, keep the faith. Go back to your villages or towns and your cities and you tell them: I was there, here in parliament square, outside the buildings that inspire parliamentary democracy across the world, fighting for our tomorrow in peace, secure the bitterness and bloodshed of Europe's past, buried with its history.
- Just take one message home - do it for them, the younger generation. They were the sort of people who were sent to the trenches of Europe, time and time again. It must never happen again.
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