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Conventional wisdom suggests that the wounds of the past are tormenting the Conservative Party in the present. Pundits have been quick to claim that tensions on Europe dating from the 1990’s have been brought to the surface by the EU referendum, and could in due course split the party apart.

It is an entertaining narrative, and one that allows journalists to dust off juicy ‘Tory Civil War’ headlines. However it overlooks an intriguing aspect of the (admittedly robust) blue-on-blue referendum debates of recent months – that Conservatives on both sides have deployed a shared Tory language, shaped by a shared Tory past, to frame their arguments.

It’s a shared Tory past that, appropriately enough, has its origins in the English Civil War. As every post-Gove era schoolchild should know, British party politics arose from that decades-long conflict, with former Royalist participants forming a group in the Commons that came to be known as the Tories in the years following the restoration of King Charles II. The Group, comprised mainly of former Royalist soldiers, dedicated itself to reminding would-be-revolutionaries of the chaos and bloodshed that characterised the radical upheavals of the Civil War period and British Conservatism was born.

Four centuries on, that Royalist DNA can be detected coursing through the veins of Conservative Brexiteers and Remainers alike.

To turn first to Conservative Remainers, there are clear threads of continuity that link their arguments and rallying calls of Caroline Royalists. At the heart of both lies a strong (and profoundly conservative) belief in preserving existing institutions, the crown in the 17th century, the European Union in the 21st. In both case these institutions have been presented, by Royalists past and Conservatives present, as protective bulwarks in an uncertain world, with attendant warnings about the turbulence risked by moving away from then. Royalist warnings of ‘a world turned upside down’ and Remain warnings of profound shocks and endangered peace are time-specific statements that cloak the same concern, the same fear of chaotic change leading from constitutional upheaval.

Other continuities are also discernible – King Charles I and his supporters provoked anger in their own time by their relaxed attitude to new cultural influxes – personified in the 17th century by the French Catholic influences that accompanied Charles’ Queen, Henrietta Maria. The rash of new Catholic chapels that sprung up across England in the 1630s provoked perceptions of cultural threat comparable to the present-day concerns about new Eastern-European supermarkets and restaurants. Remainers, just like their Royalist predecessors, are having to rebut accusations of ambivalence about fast-changing communities.

For Conservative Brexiteers the 17th century Tory inheritance is perhaps more a matter of style. King Charles’ cavaliers were led by charismatic leaders, known for their disdain for conventional tactics and the passion and flair they brought to the battlefield. Time and time again the royalist cavalry would follow a dynamic leader in a wild charge – irresistible on occasion, but frequently hampered by a cavalier tendency to split into separate small groups, each haring after a different objective. The parallels between charismatic but headstrong Civil War cavaliers and charismatic but headstrong Conservative Brexiteer leaders has been noted before.

Both in terms of substance and style the ghosts of Charles’ Royalists can be glimpsed flitting between the opposing Conservative ranks during Cameron’s referendum.  Even when the Party is as divided as it ever has been in modern times, a deeper past points towards the the underlying unity of the Conservative Party.

These are ties that bind, and that could be used to help the Party seeks come together again after 23 June. The most famous last word thrown up by the 17th century is perhaps apposite; seconds before being executed at Whitehall in 1649 King Charles exhorted his followers to ‘‘remember’’. Remember the centuries-long history that unites, not the recent disputes that temporarily divide.

Matt Browne is an Associate at Bright Blue