Post referendum
in The British political elite and Europe, 1959–1984
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For some members of the political elite, the public’s verdict on the 1975 referendum meant the issue was over at least for the foreseeable future. For others, however, the debate continued. A large number of Labour left-wing anti-Marketeers were unhappy at how the defeat on Europe was followed by a general offensive by the leadership against the left of the party on other issues. This chapter examines the events following the outcome of the referendum including the resurgence of the Labour left as a consequence of the 1979 general election defeat. Also analysed are the Labour Party conferences held in 1981 which were dominated by the left. These conferences formed the cornerstone of policy for the forthcoming 1983 general election, and for some right-wingers in the Labour Party, provided the catalyst for the Social Democratic Party. This chapter focuses primarily on the Labour Party, yet it was the Conservatives that was to be the party most deeply divided over the issue of Europe.

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