The letter from Andy Loates (May 27), accusing Paul Blomfield MP of historical inaccuracy with regard to the EU, was itself full of inaccuracies.
The Common Market was established in 1957 (NOT 1997!) by six countries under the Treaty of Rome, to ensure that the historic rivalry between France and Germany, which had resulted in European wars in 1870, 1914-18 and 1939-45 which had left the continent devastated, would not be repeated. By working together and integrating to some extent their economies, such wars would become – and have indeed become – unthinkable.
Over the years other European countries joined, including the UK in 1973 with Denmark and Ireland, and approved by the British people in the referendum of 1975.
We have indeed enjoyed an unprecedented 70 years of peace and – until the banking crisis which originated in the USA – prosperity.
I was a member of the European Parliament from 1994-99, when the Eastern European countries were seeking EU membership and building up democratic structures after the collapse of communism. I attended a number of meetings and conferences with parliamentarians from the applicant states, most particularly from Poland.
They were all united in seeing their future as independent states within the EU. Of course NATO membership was also an important goal for some, but the USA was virtually never mentioned.
The richer countries of the EU have supported the poorer ones, and poorer regions (like South Yorkshire), for many years through social and structural funds.
Paul Blomfield’s article was measured and factual, which is more than can be said for Andy Loates’ letter.