RAF veteran Bryan Neely, who flew into battle against Hitler’s Luftwaffe over Europe during the Second World War, says diehard europhile Michael Heseltine “is not doing anyone any favours” by claiming that Brexit is a betrayal of Britain’s war dead.
“I completely disagree,” said Mr Neely, 92. “It’s the EU itself which is letting down the war dead.”
Breitbart London contacted the former Flying Officer, who served with RAF Bomber Command during the war, via the Veterans for Britain group, which campaigned for Brexit during Britain’s referendum on membership of the European Union.
“I was in the thick of things towards the end of the war and we thankfully were on the winning side and established peace,” he said.
Heseltine, a former Deputy Prime Minister who has been fighting a determined rearguard action against Brexit in the House of Lords, had told The House magazine that Brexiters “abandoned the opportunity to influence Europe; the Council of Ministers will meet and we won’t be there.”
He also claimed Britain’s “ability to speak for the Commonwealth within Europe [will] come to an end,” and that, while “Germany lost the war [Brexiters] handed them the opportunity to win the peace.”
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Mr Neely corrected Lord Heseltine, who effectively avoided any real military service himself, by saying that “Winning the peace is certainly not about the UK being outnumbered or overruled in the EU. Winning the peace is about being democratic and ensuring peace in Europe continues.”
“The UK has had very little voice for a long time,” he continued. “You only need to see the lack of influence [David] Cameron had in his negotiations to see that.
“I really think Heseltine should be directing his remarks not to Brexiters of the British Government but to [European Commission President Jean-Claude] Juncker and Brussels.”
On the subject of the Commonwealth, Veterans for Britain spokesman David Banks added that he found Lord Heseltine’s comments “bizarre”.
“His comments about the UK representing Commonwealth interests in the EU are not the reality,” he said. “Vested interests within the bloc have denied Commonwealth exporters free access to European markets for decades, undermining Britain’s economic relationship with its loyal and long-standing global partners.”
Mr Banks’s remarks echo the sentiments of the late Field Marshal Montgomery, arguably Britain’s most famous wartime commander and a vocal opponent of entry into the European Economic Area which preceded the EU.
Montgomery said he “often wondered what has come over us that we want to tie ourselves in with the nations of Continental Europe and chuck the Commonwealth overboard.”
Mr Neely was also a passionate advocate of UK independence in the referendum.
“I couldn’t care less about whether cucumbers are straight or crooked or whatever it is,” he said during the campaign. “But my overall feeling is that we, as a nation, are losing our character.”
“Of course we can do it; have some spirit, have some guts,” he urged voters worried by the Remain campaign’s claims that Britain could not cope outside the bloc. “All the people I was flying with, they all had guts. Get some guts back into this; think properly – really think properly.”