Richard Hayton
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The European question
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European integration has long been one of the most controversial and divisive issues in British Conservative politics. It caused the deepest divisions in the party since the Corn Laws, contributing to Thatcher’s downfall and undermining the government of her successor. This chapter traces how this issue was handled between 1997 and 2010. Whilst most academic attention has focused on the intense divisions Europe caused in the Conservative Party during the Thatcher and Major governments, the chapter suggests that the issue was largely neutralised within the party in opposition, when the Conservatives settled on a broadly Thatcherite Eurosceptic position. However, it is argued that returning to office is likely to heighten tensions, highlighting the continuing significance of this issue for contemporary Conservatism.

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Reconstructing conservatism?

The Conservative Party in opposition, 1997–2010


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