The european union

How Britain was misled over Europe for 60 years

Just as one is inclined to believe Carlyle’s point that the history of the world is but the biography of great men, so Christopher Tugendhat, in this level-headed account, is right to conclude that the history of the Conservative party in the past 60 or 70 years has been deeply affected by the biography of the movement for the European Union. And it would have shocked Carlyle that a great woman – Margaret Thatcher – played a central part and, according to Tugendhat, altered the course of the party’s relationship with Europe. She was certainly central to the debate, not least because rather too many Conservatives felt she had died

Will the next generation wonder what the fuss over Brexit was about?

Robert Tombs’s new book is not long: 165 pages of argument, unadorned by maps or images. But brevity is good, and we pick it up expecting much insight, because its predecessor was so wonderful. In The English and Their History (2015), Tombs, a scholar of French, not English, history, boldly saw the wood where specialists saw only the trees. Surely, he said, England should have a history of its own. The election had just signalled that England-and-Wales might soon be a separate polity for the first time since 1707. Tombs delivered a timely and gripping investigation of this land, so filled with marks of continuity, yet prone to occasional, apparently