16 Jan 2016

European referendum: at home with Bill Cash

If David Cameron wins the European referendum he will declare it has settled Britain’s destiny.

Bill Cash says it will do nothing of the sort.

In the first of a series of interviews on Europe and how individuals came to hold their views, we visited Sir William Cash, as David Cameron made him, at his historic home in Upton Cresset, Shropshire.

He bought it in 1970 when it was derelict and riddled with livestock. It’s now fully restored. His son, also William Cash, has moved in and Bill and Biddy Cash have move into a converted barn at the back.

Bill Cash believes that even if the Leave side lost, the struggle would continue. It is deep in the British psyche to resist outsiders who want to tell us what to do.

You hear a lot of history if you spend a day with Bill Cash, it is his passion – everyone from John Bright, his ancestor, to Demosthenes. But you also hear an authentic voice of Conservative England.

He worries that Germany is trying to boss Britain around, that there is something in the national DNA that wants things the German way.

Bill Cash was 4 years old when he answered the door at his childhood home to a man with a telegram. It was 1944, his father was serving in France, and he remembers his mother worked out what had happened before reading the message and collapsed.

He believes that it was a desire for peace in Europe which spurred him on to support the European cause in the 1975 referendum (like Margaret Thatcher and most other Conservatives at the time). But a fresh threat of German-led European federalism came into view in the 1980’s and became the priority. He believes he was honouring his father when he voted in 1975 and will be honouring him again when he votes the other way in the coming referendum.

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