The Independent news website has published an article arguing that Brexit supporters should think twice about wearing a poppy as they have effectively ‘betrayed’ war heroes by voting to leave the European Union (EU).
“Many Brexiteers claim to honour the victims of war while denigrating the very institutions set up to prevent future wars, showing themselves to be historically illiterate at best,” claims author John Lubbock.
In Lubbock’s view, the EU in one of the primary legacies of the World Wars and without it the continent risks returning to conflict.
The Independent article also links the “pro-Brexit camp” to the Paradise Papers and claims that socialist policies, such as the welfare state, are effectively a product of the wars, implying that not believing in them is a further betrayal of war heroes.
People have “forgotten the lessons we learned from the world wars” and after Brexit they “may be well on their way to creating a world in which they’ll get to relive” the horror of World War One, the article claims.
Former British Army Officer James Maclaren was unimpressed. Reacting to the article, he wrote:
“I served my country for 24 years, have two gallantry awards, commanded soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines and I voted to Brexit. The idea that some sneering journalist with a political axe to grind suggests I should not wear a poppy is repulsive.”
“Following the Second World War, we learned to work together with our European neighbours to solve shared problems,” writes Lubbock for the former newpaper, which went fully digital following a decline in readership.
“Now, as we face greater shared problems than ever before, in the form of climate change, the refugee crisis and economic inequality – issues that are threatening the long-term peace and stability on the continent – we seem to have given up on trying to find shared solutions.”
Others, including the Czech president’s spokesman, have argued the opposite, claiming that the undemocratic, almost imperial aims of the EU to unite Europe resembles the totalitarianism of the Third Reich that preceded the Second World War.
On Twitter, The Independent writer also appears to mock those who wear the poppy with pride. In his article, he claims:
“We have reified the traumatic memories of the two world wars into an empty symbol of belonging in a country that is embroiled in an existentialist crisis about its own identity.”