David Cameron is right. The EU, not Nato, has prevented war in Europe

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Monday 13 June 2016 12:40 BST
Leaving the EU would increase the risk of a conflict, the Prime Minister warned this week
Leaving the EU would increase the risk of a conflict, the Prime Minister warned this week (AP)

This week marked Europe Day, an annual celebration of the ‘Schuman Declaration’ when, on 9 May 1950, European governments determined to make war not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible.Yet despite 66 years of peace across the continent following this declaration, those pushing for the UK to leave the EU argue it is Nato, not the EU, which has kept the peace.

As Greens, we believe Nato was designed for a world of two hostile blocs and should have been abolished at the end of the Cold War. This military alliance, based on the premise that to ensure peace you have to prepare for war, demands all members spend 2 per cent of their GDP on the military. This feeds the arms trade which ultimately only profits from war, not peace.

The EU, on the other hand, has actively worked for peace within Europe and beyond its borders. In recent months, it was responsible for negotiating a breakthrough in Iran’s nuclear talks, something the US could not have achieved on its own. A European Parliament vote for an end of arms sales to Saudi Arabia is a further example.

Peace is a condition achieved through determination and wilful action, not through the threat of military might. The EU’s democratic nations working together can, and do achieve, this.

This year more than any other, we would be wise to remind ourselves of the legacy of peace and prosperity that the architects of the EU have left us, and defend it by remaining a part of the EU.

Jean Lambert MEP, Green (London)
Molly Scott Cato MEP, Green (SW)
Keith Talyor MEP, Green (SE)

David Cameron may bitterly regret his boast that EU membership will keep Britain safe in future and prevent a third world war. Enlarging the union, he insists, will make us more powerful. As well as planned accession of the Baltic states and Turkey, we know that Ukraine is also desperate to eventually join.

However, a large proportion of that country's population regard Russia as their motherland, quite possibly spurring Vladimir Putin or his successor into retaliatory action against Europe. It is well known that the Kremlin regards their Crimean base as highly strategic, as we found to our cost in the 1850s.

Far from enhancing European security, many political commentators blame Brussels and NATO for the current problems in that country. I fear the arrogance emanating from Brussels is the chief risk to world security.

Anthony James Sokol

As is usual when Shakespeare finds himself thrust into the public consciousness, as he was last month for the 400th anniversary of his death, there is a particular quote that always seems to force its way to the front. Although even the most cursory fan could be spoilt for choice, the famous “scepter'd isle” speech, delivered by John of Gaunt in Richard II, seems to be a firm favourite.

This time around though, it took on special meaning. With a referendum on Britain’s future in Europe looming, this exhortation of English exceptionalism was seized on by those who think it is just the continent’s shackles preventing Britannia ruling once more.

Before they rushed to tweet it and recycle it over a warm pint to boorish friends, however, they should perhaps have kept reading. Just a few dozen lines later, the dying John laments an England turned over to “those physicians that first wounded thee” and a king who has become little more than “Landlord of England”.

In light of the creeping privatisation of institutions such as the NHS and a Tory establishment in thrall to the bankers that brought the country to its knees not even a decade ago, perhaps we should all start reading the Bard a little more closely.

James Harrison

The United Kingdom is far too important for its European partners that they would refuse negotiations about vital chapters of the UK-EU relations after the Yes to Brexit. Look at Switzerland: we are not a member country of the EU and have best ties to the EU.

The billions of taxpayers' contributions to the EU budget could be used for the British citizens' needs. A million refugees, to which Germany opened its doors last year, would have free passage to the UK once they have proper German papers. This, and more to come, could be stopped at the roots with a Yes to Brexit.

The UK will not remain alone after Brexit. On the contrary; EU-critical member and non-member countries such as Switzerland will be ready to help boost UK influence in Europe.

My dear neighbours, the UK won two world wars, owned half the world at one point and was a global networker with best links to all countries, whether small or large, long before mainland Europe. Would you agree with me, the United Kingdom will be better off without a supreme government dominated by the most influential country of the EU: Germany? I trust in you and recommend a strong Yes for Brexit.

Markus Troendle
Basel, Switzerland

Of course Germany had a UK-EU renegotiation veto. So did France; so did Italy; so did the Netherlands. And so did every other member state of the EU too. That's because, on certain matters deemed to be sensitive – which include just about everything relating to membership – voting in the EU Council has to be unanimous.

Since the UK is a member of the EU Council and has a vote there that is equal to that of every other EU member state, including Germany, we also have a veto when other EU members propose changes of this kind. And whereas Germany actively threw itself into helping us achieve a negotiated deal that would be acceptable both to us and to our partners in the EU, we have both used and threatened to use our veto on numerous occasions.

Funny, isn't it, how when we veto proposals supported by every other EU member, we're standing up for the national interest – hurrah! – but when others merely indicate that they have concerns with something we're proposing, they're bullying us and imposing their will on us and it’s a national disgrace.

Paula Kirby

The history of the last 1,000 years of Europe: war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, plague, war, war, war, war, war, war, plague, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, war, plague, war, war, war, war, war.

The creation of the EU after 1945: peace for nigh on 80 years. That's all you need to think about.

Simon Gosden
Rayleigh, Essex

Politicians are always biased against the BBC

The political bias is not within the BBC, whose news and current affairs presentation is doggedly even-handed, it is among right wing Tory ideologues who see reds under every BBC bed. Frankly, if those right wingers cannot take a bit of ribbing from lefty comedians on Radio 4’s The News Quiz and Have I Got News For You?, they need to grow up.

Governments of all stripes have always resented the BBC and Channel 4's investigative journalism, which regularly lifts the lid on political shenanigans and social ills in our society.

It would take an extended article to do justice to the fantastic range of wonderful programming on BBC radio and TV, which millions of UK citizens and many beyond our shores enjoy on an almost daily basis. But the one thing that rarely gets mentioned in these debates is the BBC's crucial role in the classical musical life of our country. This includes not merely Radio 3 itself, but the BBC's stable of in-house orchestras, the BBC singers and the broadcaster's work with other professional choirs, the almost daily sponsorship of live music in concert halls around the country, the encouragement of young musicians, and amateur and school choirs; and to crown it all the world's greatest music festival, and the BBC Proms.

The commercial media would never fund a fraction of this activity – and with a significant further squeeze on budgets, the BBC will not be able to either.

Why on earth would any government want to emasculate one of the most admired institutions in Britain? Moderate Tory MPs need to wake up to the true agenda behind John Whittingdale's weasel words about being an admirer of the BBC.

Gavin Turner
Gunton, Norfolk

Test children on their abilities – but don’t tell them you’re doing it

When I went to infant and junior school 50 years ago, I believe we were being constantly tested and assessed. The only difference is that we, as five to 11-year-old children, didn't know; we blissfully unaware how we were being assigned.

Fun could be had (probably guided by clever teachers) in the playground chanting the times tables and silly grammar rules. This was in Hackney, a very deprived area at the time, but it was also in 1957-65 – a very good era for education.

I know 10-year-olds now who don't know their times tables. They do have other skills, especially verbal and questioning, that are so good they are almost at university level, but all the fun and the sense of belonging to the community around you seems to have gone out of it

If I was one of them I'd ask what it's all for. I'm not sure that the “aspiration” to get a “brainy” job that earns you a lot of money is the answer they would like to hear, or is a sustainable model for the society we might like to build.

Penny Manning
Great Yarmouth

The Standard Attainment Tests are "so that we understand which children need extra help", according to a government minister. I am sure the class teacher, who works with the children for several hours a day, week in, week out, already knows this without the need for stressful formal tests. Why doesn't the government simply ask them?

Richard Walker

Americans are putting blind faith in Trump

“The moral flabbiness born of the exclusive worship of the bitch-goddess success. That — with the squalid cash interpretation put on the word 'success' – is our national disease". Nothing has changed since psychologist and philosopher William James wrote these words in a letter to HG Wells in 1906, 110 years ago. They’re the key to understanding the malaise which gave rise to Donald Trump in the US.

Trump is a uniquely American phenomenon, and he has to be understood as such. His major appeal is to white working class voters who feel disenfranchised and deeply suspicious of Washington and its machine politicians. For years, they think they've been let down by both political parties. They trust neither.

The fact that he inherited great wealth from his father and didn't achieve it himself, and the fact that his businesses have filed for bankruptcy in the past, is ignored. Why they don’t see Trump as a buffoon and a narcissist is something of a puzzle. But for them, he's a success - and they're not; they believe he, and he alone, can makes things better for them through his (apparent) independence of the political system.

Aldous Huxley observed that success demands “strange sacrifices” from those who worship her. Now one strange sacrifice is all too manifest, and a great worry. It's the closing down of too many minds through blind faith in a false messiah.

Patrick Glass
St Leonards-on-Sea

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