James Forsyth

Britain might want a holiday from history, but we’re not going to get one

Britain might want a holiday from history, but we're not going to get one
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The more I think about the debate on Thursday night, the more I think it was a disgrace that there was no question on either defence or Britain’s role in the world. This country might want a holiday from history. But, sadly, we don’t look like getting one on.

On Europe’s Eastern border, the Russians are behaving in an increasingly aggressive fashion. The Times' account of a recent meeting between ex-intelligence officials from Russia and the US shows just how bellicose Putin is and reveal that Britain might well soon have to decide whether to honour its Nato Article 5 obligations to the Baltic states. On Europe’s Southern border, Islamic State is a threat to the civilised order.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East there is something approaching a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran raging in Yemen. While the attack in Kenya on Thursday shows how Islamist extremism threatens to destabilise Africa.

Yet, how Britain should respond to all this is barely being discussed in this election campaign. This absence would be understandable if there was a political consensus about what Britain should do. But there isn’t. My fear is that in a year’s time, we’ll look back and wonder how we could have had an election campaign without debating these issues.