A former Liberal Party candidate who fought several general elections in Louth - losing out to the likes of Jeffrey Archer and Sir Peter Tapsell - has spoken of his sadness about the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, which he describes as ‘the greatest self-inflicted wound in our recent history’.
John Sellick fought five elections in the Louth constituency (which later became the East Lindsey constituency) between the mid-1970s and late 1980s, coming second to the incumbent Conservative Party candidate on all five occasions.
Mr Sellick said: “Many years ago I was involved in politics in the Louth constituency.
“This extended from the village of Swaby in the south, and included the boroughs of Cleethorpes and Immingham to the north.
“I contested five General Elections: the February and October elections in 1974, 1979, 1983, and finally, 1987 for the Liberal Party, in its various forms.
“Over the past week I have been remembering how different political life was in the 1970s and 1980s, when although this country was beset by economic woes, riven by industrial disputes and distracted by problems in Northern Ireland, there seemed to me, at least, a feeling that although times were hard, and they were, things would undoubtedly improve. Optimism was essential.
“A further reason for optimism was that we had recently joined (after many false starts) the European Common market, at this time a trading bloc of just six nations.
“Now some 47 years later, we have done what, to me, is almost unthinkable.
“We have voluntarily left a prosperous trading organisation just 22 miles from our shores and where 42 per cent of our total exports are destined. Extraordinary!
“Secondly, what seems to have been forgotten in the ghastly Brexit debates was that the architects of the European Community back in the 1950s, the remarkable duo of Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman, was that the real reason for creating the organisation later to become the European Union was not economic but political.
“They were determined to prevent, if at all possible, the great powers of Europe – primarily France and Germany and their allies – from engaging in a fourth bloody conflict in little more than a hundred years. (Franco-Prussian War 1870, World War I 1914-1918, World War II 1939-1945).
“They realised the most likely formula for success would be for those great countries to be immersed in successful and profitable trade; using that recipe, they would get to know one another, become dependent on each other, and, perhaps most important of all, create friendship and solidarity. Thus war would seem to be unthinkable.
“Our membership, starting in 1973, was greeted with overwhelming approval by 90 percent of our European friends. They welcomed us as a steadying and mature democracy. “Unfortunately a significant vociferous minority of the Conservatory Party never accepted that the United Kingdom foreign policy would be influenced by nations with whom we had many historic disagreements. So we end up diminished in influence, and now risk the possible breakup of the United Kingdom.
“I believe it is, perhaps, the greatest self-inflicted wound in our recent history. A sad tale.”