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Why every government department needs a resident historian

The errors of the past years might have been avoided

By Anthony Seldon  

Photo: David Cliff/NurPhoto/PA Images

When coronavirus broke on British shores this February, the government did what governments always do—it looked forwards, not backwards to history. Scientists matter, but so too do historians. In June 2016, when Theresa May became prime minister, she had one major task to fulfil: Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU). She consulted no historians, nor spoke at length to any officials who had a deep understanding of the EU. Result: three years later, Britain was still in the EU, and the country was more…

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