British entanglement in Common Market
March 23rd, 1982
A letter to the Daily Telegraph which was published on 23rd March 1982.
Your leader on the Thatcher-Schmidt meeting (March 20th) is a disappointment to those who feel The Daily Telegraph generally sees the world as it really is. The majority of people in this country have always seen the EEC as basically an arrangement whereby West Germany paid her way back to respectability and France received reparations which she felt she was entitled to.
That period is now past, but Britain has been foolishly entangled by soft-centre politicians into an arrangement whereby she pays ad infinitum for the Supreme Quango in Brussels which, as is the way with quangos, has grown mightily in ambition since its setting up. Insofar as Britain and West Germany succeed in reducing their role of EEC paymasters, so the other countries, especially France, will lose interest in the enterprise.
Twenty-two years ago Britain and six other European countries which have prospered quite as much as the EEC countries since, formed a Free Trade Area (EFTA) in industrial goods. On Britain joining the EEC, EFTA was linked to it, but without, of course, taking on board the huge task of modernising Continental agriculture and the nonsense of a common external tariff.
I believe the EFTA arrangement is still the right one for Britain to pursue and our withdrawal from the EEC would hasten its evolution towards this sensible form. It is a dangerous situation that on present form only the Labour party will derive electoral benefit from such a move, the popularity of which will grow with the introduction of maroon passports and other symbols of an unwanted association.