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Should Britain leave the European Community?

April 28th, 1990

A letter to the Times which was published on 28th April 1990.

Ronald Butt said (article, April 25th) that it is inconceivable that Britain should leave the EC.  But why is it inconceivable?  Politicians in the original EC Six have repeatedly said they want plitical union – a United States of Europe.  Why not believe they mean what they say, rather than keep asking what they really mean?

What they mean is a sovereign republican Government to which national governments would be subordinate and to which foreign countries such as the USSR and USA would accredit their diplomatic representatives.  The Queen, while remaining the supreme symbol of law-making and parliamentary sovereignty in 10 other Commonwealth countries, would no longer have that role in Britain, her native land.

It is perfectly pointless therefore for the British Government to join in talks on political union, if it is determined, as the Prime Minister and Mr Hurd have repeatedly said, to uphold the sovereignty of the Queen in Parliament – an undertaking incidentally which every MP swears to uphold.

Instead of a futile effort to deflect the deep-felt wish of many Continental countries to unite, the Government would better spend its effort in thinking through Commissioner Andriessen’s proposal last year that Britain and Denmark should resume membership of a European Free Trade Association, enlarged to take in the countries of Eastern Europe and linked to the EC in a wider European Economic Space (EES) as he suggested.

This proposal offers us: retention of our independence; free trade and technical co-operation with the whole of Europe; removal of the huge drain on our balance of payments represented by the European Community charge (£4.5 billion last year); escape from the common agricultural policy; freedom to make our own trade agreements with our historic trading partners in the rest of the world; relief from the everlasting EC wrangles.  What more could we possibly want?