June 25, 2016

THE LADY WAS FOR TURNING:

A private letter written by Margaret Thatcher reveals she would have campaigned for Brexit, claims Eurosceptic MP (Laura Hughes, 11 Feb 2016, Telegraph)

A private letter written by Margaret Thatcher reveals she would have campaigned to leave the European Union, according to the Eurosceptic Conservative MP who has released the note.

Sir Bill Cash MP has revealed the private correspondence he had with the former Prime Minister, in which she describes the EU project as "contrary to British interests and damaging to our Parliamentary democracy".

He says it is "inconceivable" Lady Thatcher would have supported David Cameron's current deal and that she gave him the letter to make public if there was ever any doubt over her views on the European Union.

The letter to Sir Bill was composed shortly after the European Union was established under its current name in 1993 following the Maastricht Treaty.

Lady Thatcher had stepped down and was no longer an MP in 1993, so was unable to vote.

However, in her note the former Prime Minister writes: "I understand it is being suggested in some quarters that I would have agreed to the Maastricht Treaty. May I make it clear that I would NOT have done so."


The roots of Euroscepticism : Why Britons are warier than other Europeans of the EU (The Economist, Mar 12th 2016)

What this history shows is that Britain has an essentially transactional relationship with the club. Membership has been evaluated in terms of costs and benefits, not as an emotional commitment. Moreover, as a latecomer, Britain has often found the EU's organisation and policies uncongenial. This was reflected in Margaret Thatcher's battles in the 1980s to cut the outsized British budget contribution.

Over the years the political base of British Euroscepticism has moved from left to right. In the early years Labour was the more suspicious party. In 1962 its leader, Hugh Gaitskell, warned that joining the common market would end 1,000 years of history. In 1975 Harold Wilson dealt with Labour splits over Europe by staging a renegotiation and putting the result to a referendum--a tactic remarkably similar to Mr Cameron's today. In the early 1980s, Labour was once again set on withdrawal.

The pivotal moment came in 1988, when the European Commission's president, Jacques Delors, promised the Trades Union Congress that Europe's single market would be buttressed by tougher labour and social regulations. This reinforced Thatcher's growing Euroscepticism, and led directly to her Bruges speech attacking excessive EU interference in the same year. Her political downfall two years later was triggered by her denunciation of Mr Delors's plans for closer EU integration and a single currency. This marked the point when the Tories replaced Labour as the party of Euroscepticism.

September 21 1988: Thatcher sets face against united Europe : PM's 'Gaullist' tirade shocks senior EEC officials (John Palmer, The Guardian)

The Prime Minister yesterday served notice on the rest of the European Community that her government would oppose tooth and nail any attempt to turn it into an economic and political union in which Britain might have to cede power to EEC institutions.

Mrs Thatcher chose the magnificent setting of the medieval Hall of Bruges to unfold the banner of a British 'Gaullism' in the face of those who want ultimately to see a united states of Europe.

The first reaction of commissioners and other senior EEC officials to Mrs Thatcher's speech was critical. "Frankly I am shocked. It was much more
negative than I had expected," one commissioner said.

Mrs Thatcher consciously followed in the footsteps of the late French President in asserting that the best way to build the European Community was "willing and active co-operation between independent sovereign states" - a
new version of De Gaulle's "Europe des Patries".

Dismissing the idea that the United States might be a model for the future of Europe - as some of the EEC's founding fathers believed - Mrs Thatcher launched a frontal assault on those within the community who want to take some steps towards that goal.

The Prime Minister launched a thinly disguised attack on the president of the EEC Commission, Mr Jacques Delors, who earlier this year said that, over the next few years, the European Community would become responsible for some
80 per cent of all legislation in the Twelve, during which time an "embryo" European government might emerge.

"It is ironic that just when those countries such as the Soviet Union, which have tried to run everything from the centre, are learning that success depends on dispersing power and decisions away from the centre, some in the community seem to want to move in the opposite direction," she declared.

"We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them reimposed at a European level, with a European superstate exercising a new dominance from Brussels."

Posted by at June 25, 2016 7:23 AM

  

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