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Ken Livingstone accuses Boris Johnson of historical inaccuracy over Hitler EU comments

'Boris is a lot better informed about Ancient Greece and Rome than about modern history'

Ashley Cowburn
Monday 16 May 2016 14:10 BST
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Mr Livingstone is currently suspended from the Labour Party
Mr Livingstone is currently suspended from the Labour Party (Reuters)

Ken Livingstone has accused Boris Johnson of historical inaccuracy after his successor as London Mayor compared the aims of the European Union to Adolf Hitler’s attempts to control the continent.

Intervening in the furore around Mr Johnson’s likening of the goals of the EU to the Nazi dictator, Mr Livingstone – who is currently suspended from the Labour Party after becoming embroiled in his own Hitler controversy – questioned Mr Johnson's facts.

Mr Johnson had told the Sunday Telegraph that the EU was an attempt to recreate the Roman Empire’s united Europe. “Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically,” he told the paper.

“The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods,” he added.

“What I said was perfectly true,” Mr Livingstone told the Evening Standard. “But Boris is a lot better informed about Ancient Greece and Rome than about modern history.

“There was never a plan for a United States of Europe under Hitler. What he wanted was actually a Greater Germany that absorbed neighbouring states, with Britain and France rendered subservient.”

Speaking to the BBC on Monday Mr Johnson defended his comments, saying: “Over the last few thousand years there have been all sorts of attempts in Europe to recreate the dream of the Roman Empire and very often that’s been done by force. The EU is different – it’s tried to do it in a more bureaucratic way.

“The problem is there isn’t a single charismatic authority that anyone feels any loyalty to and it’s completely antidemocratic, that’s the problem.

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“This discussion is bedevilled by all sorts of artificial media twit-storms or hysteria of one kind or another. There’s a very good argument against the lack of democracy in the EU.

“Over the last 2000 years people have made repeated attempts to unify Europe by force. The EU is a very different project but it is profoundly antidemocratic.”

But Chancellor George Osborne endorsed the view of former military chief Field Marshal Lord Bramall, who described Mr Johnson's remarks as "simply laughable" and "absurd".

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