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Top UK Historian Niall Ferguson: I Made a Mistake Opposing Brexit

One of Britain’s most influential historians and leading ‘Remain’ celebrity, Niall Ferguson, has performed a major U-turn in his stated position on Britain’s membership of the European Union, telling his fans his opposition to the Brexit vote was a “mistake”.

Reflecting on his decision to support then Prime Minister David Cameron and his then Chancellor George Osborne, Mr. Ferguson told the Milken Institute Global conference he was “wrong” to back the Remain campaign, adding: “I’ve had an awakening”.

"I admit that I was wrong" about #Brexit, says @nfergus. Now it is a divorce and we're negotiating how much #UK will have to pay #MIGlobal

— Milken Institute (@MilkenInstitute) December 6, 2016

Mr. Ferguson, whose best-selling works include Civilization, Empire, and Kissinger: The Idealist, took to his Twitter account after the event in London to underscore his point.

European Union failures, according to him, include: “1 Monetary union 2 Foreign policy (MENA, Ukraine) 3 Migration policy 4 Radical Islam policy”.

EU failures: 1 Monetary union 2 Foreign policy (MENA, Ukraine) 3 Migration policy 4 Radical Islam policy. EU deserved Brexit. 1/ https://t.co/kakB5hLoNU

— Niall Ferguson (@nfergus) December 6, 2016

“EU deserved Brexit,” he added, before going on to admit: “My mistake was uncritically defending Cameron and Osborne instead of listening to people in pubs. Issue was not GDP but future migration”.

My mistake was uncritically defending Cameron and Osborne instead of listening to people in pubs. Issue was not GDP but future migration. 2/ https://t.co/SxENvDqw9Q

— Niall Ferguson (@nfergus) December 6, 2016

And he took aim at the former Prime Minister for failing to fight in Britain’s national interest, returning from Brussels with a “risible offer” in Mr. Ferguson’s words:

Mistake was not referendum but acceptance of EU's risible offer on migrant benefits. Cameron should have rejected and backed Brexit. Me too. https://t.co/YntdBRIt7P

— Niall Ferguson (@nfergus) December 6, 2016

In his defence, Mr. Ferguson tweeted links suggesting he is not usually one to back globalist causes like the EU.

In 2011, as he links to today, he wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal where he predicted a forced ‘United States of Europe’ with significant economic and political fractures. This, he argued at the time, would be in place by 2021.

And he predicted at the time that Britain would leave the European Union and become a major power again free of Brussels diktats.

But Mr. Ferguson’s attempts to row back his Brexit antipathy is perhaps more indicative of a man who is concerned about being irrelevant in a post-globalist world.

In his 2011 article he hailed former Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, one of the most alarmist pro-EU characters around who was roundly dismissed by Poland’s population at the country’s last general election. His Civic Platform party was turfed out by the Law and Justice party formed of populists and nationalists.

Mr. Sikorski recently authored a hysterical report for the Atlantic Council which claimed Brexit was won due to Kremlin support.

And Mr. Ferguson has also mellowed on his angry protestations against a potential President Trump before the U.S. election, perhaps fearing irrelevance in a post-globalist world.

Writing in the Boston Globe this week, Mr. Ferguson adopts a far more diplomatic tone towards the Trump administration than his work for the same outlet just two months ago when he wrote:

The most shocking aspect of the Trump campaign is not the revelation that he is a serial sexual harasser, but rather the revelation that he is the dupe, if not the pawn, of President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

Speaking to Bloomberg in October he said the presidential race was over for Mr. Trump, claiming he had “lost three out of three debates” and had “alienated independent voters”.

“I think it’s over,” he said, before adding: “I think the 12 per cent probability he had now looks optimistic”.

Despite numerous establishment media reports into “Bregret” or Brexit regret, none of the outlets promoting the idea that people thought they erroneously voted to leave — the BBC, the Economist, etc. — have reported Mr. Ferguson’s recantation.

Raheem Kassam

More From: Raheem Kassam
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