Cambridge academics sign letter backing Remain vote

Sam Harrison 26 May 2016

10 academics at Cambridge are among the 306 historians who have endorsed a vote to remain in the European Union in an open letter to the Guardian.

The short letter ran: “As historians of Britain and of Europe, we believe that Britain has had in the past, and will have in the future, an irreplaceable role to play in Europe. On 23 June, we face a choice: to cast ourselves adrift, condemning ourselves to irrelevance and Europe to division and weakness; or to reaffirm our commitment to the EU and stiffen the cohesion of our continent in a dangerous world.”

It was signed by Professor David Runciman, lecturer in Political History at Trinity Hall; Dr Nora Berend, lecturer in Medieval History at St Catharine’s; Dr ZoŃ‘ Groves, lecturer in World History; Dr Mathias Haeussler, Lumley Research Fellow at Magdalene Professor Dominic Lieven, Senior Research Fellow at Trinity; Professor Rosamond Deborah McKitterick, a professor of Medieval History and Director of Research at Sidney Sussex; Dr Renaud Morieux, lecturer in British History and Fellow of Jesus College; Professor Chris Clark, St Catharine’s, Regius Professor of History at Cambridge University, and well-known publicly as the author of The Sleepwalkers; and Professor Richard Evans, Regius Professor of History until 2014 and current President of Wolfson College, who has also gained renown as a defender of historical practices against post-modern criticisms.

Among the signatories were also some Fellows and Honorary Fellows of Cambridge colleges. These included the notable names of Gareth Stedman Jones, who is a Fellow of King’s College, and Professor Simon Schama, an Honorary Fellow of Christ’s College who has become famous for his books, including Citizens, about the French Revolution, and for his television series, including A History of Britain and The Power of Art.  

However, the letter does not necessarily represent a consensus amongst Cambridge historians. Academics at the university feature prominently in the Eurosceptic group Historians for Britain, which in 2013 wrote a letter to The Times calling for a renegotiation of the British relationship with the EU, and which has endorsed the Vote Leave campaign in the referendum. Its chairman is David Abulafia, the Papathomas Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius.