Chapter 5 focuses primarily on the problems faced by Prime Minister Wilson in
his struggle to keep his party united. Following Macmillan’s failed attempt
at EEC entry, Wilson also found himself facing not only US pressure to apply
for membership, but also from the pro-European right-wingers in his party.
Having been seen to have strongly supported Gaitskell’s passionate speech
opposing EEC membership, Wilson needed to be able to make an application
without on the one hand appearing to shift his position on Europe, and on
the other hand attempting to maintain party unity for electoral advantage.
During this period, WiIson also faced the difficulty of combating leadership
challenges from Roy Jenkins and James Callaghan. For both Macmillan’s and
Wilson’s respective applications, the conditions of entry were inextricably
linked with party management, with both leaders lacking total commitment to
Europe. Wilson also used pressure from the CBI for Britain to join the EEC
to his own advantage. As a consequence of his application, Wilson gained the
support of British business.