The debate did not only divide Europe geographically and politically, it also pointed to a glaring aspiration. For religion had not only retreated in Western Europe. In its wake there arose a desire to demonstrate that in the twenty-first century Europe had a self-supporting structure of rights, laws and institutions which could exist even without the source that had arguably given them life.

Like Kant’s dove we wondered whether we wouldn’t be able to fly faster if we lived ‘in free air’ without the bother of the wind keeping us aloft. Much rested on the success of this dream. In the place of religion came the ever-inflating language of ‘human rights’ (itself a concept of Christian origin). We left unresolved the question of whether or not our acquired rights were reliant on beliefs that the continent had ceased to hold or whether they existed of their own accord. This was, at the very least, an extremely big question to have left unresolved while vast new populations were being expected to ‘integrate’.