Unmentionables

Hugo Young

  • Europe: The Europe We Need by Leon Brittan
    Hamish Hamilton, 248 pp, £17.99, March 1994, ISBN 0 241 00249 4

Does Britain belong to Europe? Incredibly, this question dominated the politics of 1993. It had done the same in 1962, the year the Macmillan Government sought terms for entry into the Community; in 1972, when the Heath Government negotiated British membership; and in 1975, when the Wilson Government held a referendum. The referendum, in which 64 per cent of the voters said Yes, was supposed to determine the question, but long before 1993 the evidence accumulated that it had not entirely done so. For 11 years, Britain was led by a prime minister who took Britain further into Europe, by pressing for passage of the Single European Act, but simultaneously conducted a relentless propaganda campaign against ‘Europe’ and all its works. This was perhaps the main reason why the apparently settled verdict of 1975 proved to be the beginning not the end of an argument, and why the 1993 version of the argument was more virulent than any of its predecessors.

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