If you want to know why Europeans belong in a single community, visit any one of Britain's great medieval cathedrals. Walk in the cloisters at Gloucester or pay homage to William of Sens, the Norman architect of Canterbury. Or just tap the stones of this masterpiece – they come from Caen, France.
The modern dream of European political union is entering its darkest days. Eurosceptics say they are vindicated, and are realists – but nothing is less real than the illusion that any European nation, least of all ours, can lay claim to some inward-turned, singular story outside the larger narrative of the continent. For at least 1,000 years, Europe has been building a common culture.
The question has never been about whether there is a shared history between the people of these islands and the continent of Europe, it is whether we want to abolish our system of government and law and hand over power to the institutions of the EU. That those institutions are corrupt, venal, run by failed politicians, ex-Maoists and sundry control-freaks, who have no intention of permitting democracy or allowing themselves to be held to account does not help the Federasts' case.
It is such a weak argument, I almost pity the man who makes it. Even given the non-controversy, he fluffs his lines. "For at least 1,000 years, Europe has been building a common culture". Hasn't this poltroon ever heard of the Roman Empire? And then there's this: "any European nation, least of all ours..." Quite the opposite, in fact. If anyone was making such a claim, which they're not, it would be easier to make for us than, say, Belgium, so the 'least of all ours' line doesn't make sense.
As ever, the Federasts cannot make a reasoned argument in favour the EU, so try to co-opt the past, to fabricate an aura of manifest destiny for their squalid utopian fantasy, but this cannot mask the reality. If History teaches us anything, it is that we don't need Brussels and never did.