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Should Britain leave the European Community?

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?

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Europe: why do we endure a nightmare?

A letter to the Sunday Telegraph which was published on 3rd December 1989.

I am not sure where Robert Jackson (Letters, Nov. 26th) gets his information about Germany, but as a recent visitor to West Germany I can say the Press and magazines are full of the prospect of reunification.

He seems shaky on the “philosophical basis” of the EEC, which was designed and still operates fundamentally as a system of war reparations by Germany to France.  Its basis is about as incompatible with the Anglo-Saxon way of government as anything could be.

The basis of the majority of the EEC’s pronouncements is the Single European Act (SEA), which is an enabling Act, a form of legislation abhorrent to our tradition, but completely in line with Continental practice.  It was after all the enabling law – Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Reich und Volk – democratically passed by the German Parliament which was the legal foundation of the Hitler regime.

It is the claim that the SEA covers transport, health, education, etc which enables the EEC Commission, in its view, to issue to our government detailed instructions on matters which in our parliamentary tradition would have to be agreed individually and separately.  The problem posed by German reunification is not our crisis but France’s, whose policy of using German economic power as a prop to its own pretensions is now in ruins.  For us, the suggestion by Mr Andriessen, the Dutch EEC commissioner, that we should resume membership of an EFTA linked to the EEC in a wider European Economic System (EES) with all the Single Market freedoms, though derided by the Foreign Office, renders us everything we could possibly want.

While Germany unifies and draws closer to Russia, and France, Italy and Spain enter some form of Latin federation, we will be free to resume our position as a founder member of the Society of English speaking nations and that expanding society of nations outside Europe who have English as their language of business, industry and technology.

We would be excluded from EEC inner councils – but so what?  We shall also be excluded from the Common Agricultural Policy, from an annual levy likely to reach £3 billion in a year or so (removing which reduces our balance of payments deficit at a stroke), from artificially high food prices, affecting particularly the poorest, from the absurd hyprocrisy of Italian commissioners complaining about our water quality, from an Irish commissioner telling us, a great nation, what we can and cannot do with our industry, and so on.

In short we shall be excluded from a nightmare and wonder why we ever endured it for so long.

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