Britain is a leading member of Nato. It is something Tory MPs never forget and avidly support. Nato is a multi-national organisation where each country gives up part of its sovereignty to provide security for all. It was created in 1949 with a single purpose – to prevent Russia, then in the form of the Soviet Union, from dividing and destroying Western Europe, which had just overcome a different totalitarian evil at the cost of millions of lives.
That purpose remains unchanged. The KGB-led Kremlin has murdered a British citizen in Salisbury, invaded the Ukraine, propped up the murderous Assad regime in Syria and interfered in our democratic processes. Its fighter planes buzz our aircraft and test our defences regularly. Its leader boasts of the triumph of nationalism and authoritarianism over the liberal democracies that so many of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations sacrificed themselves to defend.
Russia wants the unity of the West destroyed; it wants our economies impoverished and our nations too poor to fund the defences we need.
Russia’s most effective tool in this armoury in the last three years has been Brexit, a process that will likely break up the Union, cripple the UK economy, damage those of our main trading partners and divide us from our closest allies, including most of those who make up Nato.
You would expect the far left, still hung over from their love affair with Soviet Communism, to support Brexit. And they do. You would expect the far right, enamoured of populism and nationalist isolationism, to support Brexit. And they do.
Brexiteer Bill Cash and Jeremy Corbyn; Nigel Farage and George Galloway – who has just announced his bid to challenge Tom Watson at the next election – the extremes allied to destroy the centre.
But what the British people did not expect is that sensible Tory MPs, politicians who grew up in the shadow of the Iron Lady and her defiance of Russia, would revert to appeasement in the face of a policy designed by our enemies to destroy us.
And yet that is what we have been served.
Countless Conservative MPs know that Brexit is a disaster for the UK. They fully appreciate the economic damage it will wreak. They know only too well how diminished our country will be in the family of nations, punching below, not above its weight, turning its back on the pleas from key partners like Japan and the Commonwealth to be their voice in Europe.
They understand all that but, despite that knowledge, they do nothing, instead skulking in corners for fear of their associations and the rabidly pro-Brexit press. Urging yet more caution – ‘now is not yet the time’.
The risks of this were spelled out perfectly by Winston Churchill in his book covering the appeasement era, The Gathering Storm: “We shall see how the counsels of prudence and restraint may become the prime agents of mortal danger; how the middle course adopted from desires for safety and a quiet life may be found to lead direct to the bull's-eye of disaster … if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival.”
That precarious position is where so many of our MPs now find themselves: the Fallons, Rudds and Fords, the Tugendhats and Greens, the Burts and the Fields; the Bottomleys and Soameses – moderate, sensible MPs who are nonetheless prepared to see their country obey the Will of the Kremlin rather than stand up and do what they know to be right.
They say they are One Nation Conservatives, upholding a line of maximum compromise. However, history will more likely equate them with the “White Feather” faction – conscientiously objecting to rescuing the United Kingdom.
It is, of course, the ardent Brexiteers who have set us on this course to national ruination and the destruction of the Conservative Party to boot. But at least they are acting on their beliefs, however much a majority of the country now believes them to be nonsense.
By contrast, those MPs who know the course to be ruinous but then keep quiet and support the government, are fully aware that they are acting against the national interest and furthering the foreign policy objectives of our enemies.
Let us all pray that, unlike the appeasers of the 1930s, these Conservative MPs grow some backbone before it is too late.
Simon Allison is chairman of Citizens for Britain