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THE TIMES, Letters to the Editor

Cameron in Poland

Published at 12:01AM, June 1 2015

Today’s government ministers should recognise that we owe some debts to others and that we share a common history

Sir, If the prime minister is to succeed in persuading other European governments to accept British proposals for EU reform, they will need to understand the way the world looks to others as well as to ourselves.

Mr Cameron’s reception in Warsaw might have been a little warmer if he had paid attention to the Polish contribution to the Second World War, as well as to British grievances over recent Polish migrants. I have heard the prime minister speak with pride of Britain “standing alone” against Germany in 1940-41, but without, for example, recognising the early contribution that Poles made to Britain’s efforts to crack German codes, the 139 Polish pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain (and the remarkable record of the Polish 303 Squadron), or of the Polish divisions that fought in the British Army. Poles still remember that the British denied Polish veterans a place in the victory parade of 1946, and have not yet redressed that denial.

Today’s government ministers would attract a more sympathetic hearing if they also recognised that we owe some debts to others; that we share a common history and benefit from shared security and prosperity. Ministers who see Britain’s relations with other European states entirely in transactional terms will find bargaining hard and sympathy for special pleading lacking.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire

House of Lords

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