Stop Comparing Brexit to the Reformation

Iain Duncan Smith, the former leader of the Conservative party (from 2001–2003) and current MP for Chingford and Wood Green, recently published an opinion piece for The Telegraph entitled ‘The Reformation was the making of modern Britain. Brexit is a similar opportunity’. His article is but one part of a larger trend of comparing historical English (and British) events to its departure from the EU. Those in support of Brexit seem, however, to have a particular obsession with the Henrician Reformation of the 1530s and ’40s when it comes to historical comparisons. The problem they face is the incompatibility between the two events, 500 years apart, which they mask using cunning omission and ludicrous vagueness which seeks to reduce the Reformation down to ‘the Papacy was powerful like the EU and we got rid of its power like we should with the EU’. In the course of this argument, the true causes, ongoings, and effects of the Reformation in England are conveniently ignored.

Pope Clement VII, a 16th-century Donald Tusk or Jean-Claude Juncker?
Henry VIII was far from a 16th-century Nigel Farage
Simon Schama (left) was quick to point out the problems with Duncan Smith’s comparison (FinancialTimes/Flickr, distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license)

Interested in History. Specifically, Tudor History and the Middle Ages in England.

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