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Authentic voice of defeatism

June 20th, 1986

A letter to the Daily Telegraph which was published on 20th June 1986.

Following the publication of this letter, Stephen Bush’s son James (16 years-old at the time) wrote to the Prime Minister about the effects of the Single European Act if it were to be passed. The response from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 13th August follows after the Telegraph letter.

Caroline Jackson asked (letter June 13th) plaintively what viable alternative there is to our membership of the EEC.  This is the authentic voice of what may be termed the defeatist tendency, which has dominated British political life since Suez.  The answer is to resume our path as a sovereign independent country, taking our chances among the nations of the world, certainly participating in the free trade area which embraces all countries in Western Europe, not just the EEC, but also being free to negotiate trade agreements with other countries, to serve purely British not Continental interests.

It is a deception to represent the Single European Act as merely another stage in completing the internal market.  It is in fact a tactic adopted by the European federalists to achieve by stealth what would be rejected by the British people if they were ever given the chance to vote on it.

The so-called White Paper from the EEC Commission on Completing the Internal Market is written in fact as if the authors were talking about a federal state.  Its proposals (paragraph 27) to abolish all controls at what it tendentiously refers to as the internal frontiers in the EEC, for example those between Britain and France, when taken with the imminent introduction by the British authorities of passports from which the very word British has been removed, are deliberately aimed at gutting both the sense and reality of our nationhood.

When Mrs Jackson talks about parliamentary democracy she should understand that the British prople want to be governed by their own British parliament, not by some European assembly in which they have a 15 per cent voice.  Frankly I do not see how MPs can square their parliamentary oath, with all that implies for the untrammelled sovereignty of the Queen in Parliament, with voting for the SEA, any more than I can understand their spiritless acceptance of a foreign court repeatedly over-ruling what is supposed to be the highest court in the land.

Personally speaking and opposed as I would be it its programme in almost every other respect, if the Labour party adopted a policy of withdrawal from the EEC, I would vote for it and I suspect many other former Conservative voters would do the same.  It is the supreme issue for our country from which the political establishment have so far successfully excluded the British people.

Reply to James Bush’s letter from F J Marshall, European Community Department (Internal) dated 13th August 1986.

Thank you for your letter of 25 July, addressed to the Prime Minister, about the Single European Act. I have been asked to reply.

You seem to be concerned that the Single European Act, for which the Government is seeking Parliament’s approval through the European Communities (Amendment) Bill, will result, in some way or other, in the powers of Parliament being transferred to the European Community. This most certainly not the case. The Single European Act does not represent a fundamental change in the structure of the European Community or in our relationship with it.

Nor is it the case that “groups of foreign officials from other EC countries can impose laws on the UK by ganging together.” The Luxembourg Compromise (veto) is unaffected by the agreement. The Single European Act will extend the scope for majority voting (which is already possible under more than 40 Articles of the Treaty of Rome) especially for measures to complete the internal market for goods and services. This will help advance Britain’s longstanding objective in the Community. Our special interests are protected by a number of explicit safeguards in the new texts. For example, there is a clear provision that unanimity will be maintained for fiscal provisions, those relating to the free movement of persons and those affecting the rights and interests of employees. There is also a provision for us to maintain our high levels of health and safety.

I hope you will find these explanations reassuring.