The British political elite and Europe, 1959–1984

A higher loyalty

This book argues that the current problems over Britain’s membership of the European Union are largely as a result of the absence of quality debates during the 1959–84 period. The situation today is also attributed to members of the political elite subordinating the question of Britain’s future in Europe to short-term, pragmatic, party management or career considerations. A particular and original interpretation of Britain and Europe is advanced, aided by recently discovered evidence. This includes the methods used by the Conservative government to ensure it won the vote following the 1971 parliamentary debate on Britain’s proposed entry into the EEC. It also delves into the motives of the sixty-nine rebel Labour MPs that voted against their own party on EEC membership, and how the British public were largely misled by political leaders in respect of the true aims of the European project. This is a study of a seminal period in Britain’s relationship with Europe. Starting from the British government’s early attempts at EEC membership, and concluding with the year both major political parties accepted Britain’s place in Europe, this book examines decision-making in Britain. As such, it contributes to a greater understanding of British politics. It answers a number of key questions and casts light on the current toxic dilemma on the issue of Europe.


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