Your leader (“Hard Brexit is an epic act of self-harm,” Comment, last week) speaks of the damage about to be inflicted upon this nation. I agree, but I believe the harm will spread to the rest of Europe. In my 93rd year, I observe the UK’s imminent departure from Europe with dismay and I consider the actions of this government a scandal.
I am one of a few veterans left of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising (Warszawianka Company, Chrobry II unit), when the youth of the city rose against the Nazi occupiers and held out for 63 days, but 250,000 inhabitants perished and a similar number were displaced. I became a German prisoner of war, moved in cattle trucks from camp to camp. After the liberation, my unit became part of the British army of the Rhine. In 1946, we arrived in Scotland and dispersed. There was no prospect of returning to a newly partitioned and Communist-occupied Poland and I made my home in the United Kingdom.
By a quirk of fate, my grandfather, Theodore de Korwin Szymanowski, writing in 1885 (L’avenir économique, social et politique en Europe, The Future of Europe in Economic, Social and Political Terms), argued forcefully for European economic collaboration as a means of forestalling bloodshed and social turmoil.
As we face economic uncertainty and threats from without and from within, we should heed Szymanowski’s visionary appeal. We should work together, for social evils are by nature international and universal and can only be defeated by an international and universal coming together of governments, with their citizens and resources. If European governments were at least financially united, they could make common cause on these great questions. Szymanowski recommended a European central bank, a single currency, a customs union, a council of ministers and an exit formula. He said the time of petty nationalisms had already passed.
Refugee from two attempts to create a single European order insists that the third attempt must succeed.