The lesson for Europe from the beach at Arromanches

If you want to see the original purpose of the European Union, then you should join me for a little pousse-café here on the beach. It is a beautiful scene. People are strolling in the autumn sunshine. Dogs and sail-surfers roam the sweeping, biscuit-coloured strand, and out in the bright blue bay you can still see the vast concrete lumps, left like the haphazard stepping-stones of some forgotten race of giants.

Yes, folks, I am looking at the hulking remnants of the Allied invasion’s Mulberry Harbours, and this beach is Arromanches. We have snuck over on an early-morning ferry from Portsmouth, to show the children where their grandfather came ashore in June 1944.

I had forgotten how this whole sector of Normandy is a monument to carnage. Among the apple orchards and the hedgerows and the dairy cows turning grass into camembert, you can see the white crosses. You can see the graveyards and memorials of the thousands upon thousands of Americans, British, Canadians and, yes, Germans, who died on the beaches and in the battles around Caen. You can imagine the blood in the water at Omaha and the puffs in the sand from the machine-gun bullets as the terrified marines prepared to leap from their landing craft.

Here at Arromanches you can see why the founding fathers of the EU decided that they were going to create a system that would lock Germany into Europe, and to make sure that nothing like D-Day ever had to happen again.

In many ways, I would say that the Common Market was a success. We now have a single market, where British people are allowed to come and live here, to trade, to make their lives wherever they like in a vast community of European nations. You can set yourself up as an aromatherapist in Alicante or a dentist in Lodz. You have a perfect right, as a Briton, to ply your trade as a ski instructor in Courchevel — and if some French union of ski instructors tries to block you, then you have single-market legislation to protect you.