Hereditas Historiae

Website hosted by Irène Diependaal to foster some historical knowledge necessary to understand our present times


The consequences of the Brexit-referendum will be a watershed in the European history. A complex world of ideas and controversies had to be explained before and after 23 June 2016 to the British people in possession of a vote and the people outside Britain who didn't always understand what was on stake. 

Since the European Council came together in Maastricht (1991) some prominent members of the British Conservative Party did carry out a strong wish: to have a referendum on "Europe". As soon as the Conservatives were back in power, David Cameron was therefore pressed to issue a referendum on the nature and the changing ambitions of European Union: from economic cooperation to a political supranational union. 

The nowadays legendary Margaret Thatcher was an opponent to a political union with the European Commission as main executive power. Her famous "no, no, no" to a political supranational European union resulted in her dramatic political fall in November 1990. A lot of members of the Conservative party were left behind with confused feelings. The monetary politics of the European Union, symbolised in the creation of a combined coin ("the Euro") became directly afterwards a topic political controversy. John Major, Thatcher's successor as Conservative Prime Minister, was able to obtain some important concessions from his European colleagues during the Maastricht negociations, but didn't succeed in reconciling the "Euro-rebels" among the Conservative Members of Parliament to his European policy. Conflict within the Conservative Party raged in particular on the extent of Britain's integration within the European Union. In 1997 the party suffered the worst electoral defeat as a ruling party since the major changes in the parliamentary election system in 1832. Under leadership of David Cameron the Conservative Party was able to return to government in 2010, but only won a parliamentary majority in 2015. 

During the years of political opposition the "Euro-rebels", some influential members within the Conservative Party, had developed a shared point of view: the European leaders and European executive powers are gaining too much opportunity to make political decisions without the consent of British Parliament. In this view the European leaders and judges are overruling British Parliament and British institutions of Justice, while the president of the European Commission is becoming a loose canon. After the general elections of May 2015, which turned out to be a overwelming success for the British Conservative Party, David Cameron was pressed by his fellow party men to negociate with the European leaders. At the same time, new international developments mixed with the legacies of Margareth Thatcher and John Major, the former Conservative Prime Ministers.

The Daily Telegraph was a main platform during the Brexit-discussions. This newspaper is the last surviving British broad sheet paper. It is mostly read by educated people from the middle classes. It is independent from the British Conservative Party, but the editors and columnists are mostly carrying out a political conservative point of view. During the Brexit-discussions the pages of The Daily Telegraph gave space to people with all kind of opinions concerning the European Union. The newspaper already did have two important columnists before the battle started: Boris Johnson and William Hague. Boris Johnson became the leader of the "Leave"-side, while the eurocritical William Hague became the leader of the "Remain"-side. William Hague, a retired British statesman, was Leader of the Conservative Party while the party was in political opposition. Boris Johnson turned out to be a candidate to succeed David Cameron as Leader of the Conservative Party, but failed to get it after the Brexit-referendum. Theresa May became the winner of  the civil war within the Conservative Party. The cartonists were independent. In this corner of Hereditas Historiae some cartoons from The Daily Telegraph are brought together by Irène Diependaal. The copyright belongs to the artists.

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 11 April 2015:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 27 May 2015:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 29 May 2015:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 9 June 2015:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 15 June 2015:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 25 June 2015:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 13 July 2015:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 1 September 2015:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 7 September 2015:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 24 September 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 3 March 2016: 

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 10 March 2016: 

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 11 March 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 14 march 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 21 March 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 29 April 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 10 May 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 18 May 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 10 June 2016:

Blower - Daily Telegraph, 11 June 2016:

Blower - Daily Telegraph, 12 June 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 13 June 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 18 June 2016 

(Jo Cox, Labour MP who campaigned in favour of Remain, was murdered)

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 19 June 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph 20 June 2016: 

Adams - Daily Telegraph 21 June 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph 23 June 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph 24 June 2016: 

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 27 June 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 28 June 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 29 June 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 1 July 2016:

Adams -  Daily Telegraph, 12 July 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 13 July 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 14 July 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 8 September 2016:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 15 September 2016:

(State of European Union speech 2016, by Juncker, president of the European Commission - wish to have more tasks transferred from national governments to European institutions)

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 29 March 2017:

Adams - Daily Telegraph, 30 March 2017:

Craig Oliver, David Cameron's former Director of Communication:

‘The debate over whether David Cameron should have called a referendum on membership of the European Union will rage down the years.

Those who say he could have avoided it are, I believe, denying what was political reality. The issue of whether we should remain in or leave the EU had been a slow train coming for years. It just happened to arrive in the station on David Cameron's watch.

A range of factors made it impossible for a Conservative prime minister to avoid. Scores of Tory MPs were rebelling on any and every issue that could possibly be linked to Europe; the right-wing press were full-throated in their demands; UKIP had become a significant force in British politics (eventually winning the 2014 European election); and over half the population indicated they wanted a say - with anyone under sixty never having been able to vote on the issue.

Those who declare we elect MPs to decide on such momentous things - and therefore shouldn't have had a referendum - forget that it was a central promise in the Conservative party's 2015 election manifesto. Had David Cameron not promised it then, the Conservative party, and consequently the country, would have become almost ungovernable. A great boulder would have been placed in the road, impossible to get round and stopping much else being done. Eventually his position would have become untenable.

In short, if he had not offered a referendum, it's likely someone else would have come along who was prepared to do it - and he would have been deposed.

In attempting to remove that boulder, David Cameron was wen aware that he was risking his job and the fight would be bitter and divisive.

I sat with him in the back of his Jaguar on the way to a speech in 20I5. Those journeys were always a tight squeeze, with the car's heavy armour plating and his red box placed between us minimising the space. He ran through the reasons for holding the referendum. I asked him if he could see the case against and he said instantly, 'You could unleash demons of which ye know not.' I thought it might be a quote from the Bible or Shakespeare, but when I looked it up, I couldn't find it.

Those words were prophetic. The demons were unleashed and he and his team faced betrayal, lies and political bloodletting on an epic scale.

All of this was filtered through the prism of an unbalanced media. The Remain campaign experienced the impact of a number of influential newspapers fighting for Leave with ruthless determination. Others, in favour of Remain, tended to be left-meaning and therefore lukewarm about the prospect of coming to the aid of a Conservative prime minister. Added to this was the frustration of the heavily regulated broadcast media, legally bound to provide balance, even when the other side were churning out stories that were at best deeply misleading and at worst, lies.

But it would be too easy to say that these were the only reasons Remain lost. We certainly made mistakes - and I was part of the team responsible.

All of the issues I have outlined above meant that we were swimming against the tide. But other factors meant we were doing it with one arm tied behind our back. (….)

It's a cliché to say that history is written by the winners. This book tells the story of those who lost and how - as the Remain campaign pollster, Andrew Cooper, put it - we struggled to communicate a complex truth in the face of simple lies.’


The Quotation is taken from: Craig Oliver, Unleashing demons (2016). 

Note Irène Diependaal. A reconstruction of the events between October 2011 and August 2016 is to be found in a book by Tim Shipman, political editor of The Sunday Times: All out war. The full story of How Brexit sank Britain's political class (2016). It is based on more than 80 interviews. A satire for anyone - in or outside Great Britain - who grew up with the books by Enid Blyton: Bruno Vincent, Five on Brexit Island (2016).