The contexts of Thatcher’s Bruges speech of 1988

26th September 2018

Last week was the thirtieth anniversary of the “Bruges speech” by the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Over at the FT I did a piece on the anniversary, contending that the speech was not the start of the road to Brexit (a view put forward by a number of pundits).

Instead I suggested that it was that by disregarding that speech that Conservatives took us on the road to Brexit.

The peroration (of sorts) to the piece was:

“…for two fateful years, 2015 to 2017, the Conservatives did have an overall majority.

“And they unleashed first an in/out referendum and then a botched Brexit.

“They may well have now brought the UK down with them.

“None of this happened because of the Bruges speech, in which Thatcher set the Conservatives the challenge of fashioning the future of Europe.

“It came about because many in her party disregarded the Bruges speech and decided to retreat from the EU instead.

“The road to Brexit began not with the Bruges speech, but with its rejection.”

This proposition may be right or wrong, and it is ultimately a matter of opinion and interpretation, as is any attempt to make causal connections between historical events.  If you have a view, go over to the FT if you can and leave a comment there.

The purpose of this post is not to re-assert the argument made at the FT but to set out what I think are the relevant contexts to the Bruges speech.  Some of these contexts are set out in the FT piece, but I thought they warranted a separate post on this blog.

In doing this “contextual” post, I realise that it is not “black-letter” law.  But if you want black-letter law, go to law school.  This blog (and my writing at FT and elsewhere) is about law and policy, which means (if it means anything at all) putting law into context.

And understanding the context of contested views about the nature of the European Union (formerly the European Communities, including the European Economic Community) and of the single market, makes it easier understand many of the law and policy aspects of Brexit today.

(And by way of background, in 1988 to 1990 I was a politics student and (then) Conservative activist with Euro-sceptic views, and so what follows is based partly on recollection, and memory of course can have its own bias.  And I have not supported the Conservatives for over ten years, since around the David Cameron pledge to repeal the Human Rights Act.  I am now a non-party small-l liberal and far more on the Left than Right.)

*

1988 was four years before 1992, and at the time the latter seemed a more significant date for Europe.

“1992” was the shorthand for a campaign of awareness of the completion (or supposed completion) of the Single Market.

In April 1988, five months before the Bruges speech, Thatcher launched the “1992” campaign at Lancaster House.  It is worth reading the speech in full, but here are a couple of highlights:

“How we meet the challenge of the Single Market will be a major factor, possibly the major factor, in our competitive position in European and world markets into the twenty-first century.”

Indeed.

And:

“By 1993 Europe will be our home market.

“That means that we won’t just be exporting to eleven other countries. We will be doing business in a single domestic market. Getting to grips with that basic proposition will mean a major re-think, for companies of every size […] 

“Above all, it means a positive attitude of mind: a decision to go all out to make a success of the single market.”

*

The “1992” campaign, I recall from speaker and discussion meetings and conferences at the time was not a cause of any enthusiasm among Tory activists.

But nor was it the cause of particular disquiet.

My recollection was a sense of reluctant pragmatism.

But when in the early 1990s, it appeared that for enthusiasts for European integration the achievement of “1992” was not enough.  There was then a push for the European Communities to be converted into a European Union.

This was the run-up to the Maastricht Treaty.

I remember a sense that this rush, before “1992” had settled, seemed like taking a step too quickly and too far.  It seemed that those in favour of European integration would never be satisfied.

I thought (and still think) it was a mistake for an impatient push for creation of a European Union (and for monetary and currency union) to begin before the single market had properly become embedded and the benefits appreciated in the UK.

*

In the late 1980s there was a sense among Tories of euphoria and, in hindsight, hubris. At the 1988 Conservative Party conference (which I attended), the slogan “ten more years” was as common as “make America great” at any Trump rally.

At home, the trade unions had been (or at least had seen to be) defeated.  This was partly because of the trade union reforms of Norman Tebbit and others (which have never been significantly repealed, even by later Labour governments), partly because unionised sectors of the economy had disappeared or had weakened, and partly because of the symbolic victory of the British state over the badly led miners strike.

Abroad, and to the extent Tories of the time thought about Europe they thought about in terms of the Cold War and the threat of the Warsaw Pact than anything to do with the EEC, it seemed also that the Conservatives had “won”. Gorbachev was a person whom Thatcher could do business with, and although the sudden collapses of the Iron Curtain (figuratively) and the Berlin Wall (literally) in 1989 to 1990 were surprises, there was from the mid-1980s onwards a sense that the Cold War was becoming less intense.  And the UK could be again proud in the world (and the genuinely impressive triumph in the Falklands bolstered this sense of international confidence.)

The enemies “within” and abroad looked as if they were vanquished: the scalps of enemies from Galtieri to Scargill hanged on the mental walls of the Tories of the time.  The 1987 general election had seemed a walk over.

It was a time for new opponents, for new foes to be defeated in the “ten more years”.

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One enemy which was identified was “wasteful” and “loony left” local government, and the urge to check this explained the folly of the community charge (ahem, Poll Tax).

The other became European federalists seeking to impose a European super state.

*

The “Bruges speech” was not the only significant speech about the future of Europe in September 1988.

Earlier that month, at the Trades Union conference, the European Commission president Jacques Delors had made an emphatic demand that there be a social dimension to the EEC.

The Delors speech is worth reading along with Thatcher’s Bruges speech.  One is almost a reply to the other, two visions of the future of the EEC.

I recollect that the effect of the Delors speech seemed profound on those in the Labour movement, who had been sceptical of the European project.  As recently as 1983, the Labour Party general election manifesto had proposed UK’s withdrawal.  Then well-known Labour politicians, from Tony Benn and Michael Foot to Peter Shore were openly hostile to the EEC.

But the Labour left, which were as dispirited as the Tories were euphoric, saw in what Delors had to say a way of checking the excesses of the Tory UK state, and there seemed a general acceptance of the social dimension of the EEC, a Euro-enthusiasm which was to hold the Labour leadership until Jeremy Corbyn became leader.

*

But in 1988, the Conservatives were the more European of the major two parties.

Winston Churchill had promoted a united states of Europen in his post war speeches.

Harold Macmillan had seen EEC membership as a replacement for the loss of empire and the limitations of the commonwealth.

Edward Heath had taken the UK into the EEC in 1973.

The Tories had officially campaigned “yes” in the 1975 referendum.

And the Single Market itself owed greatly to the Tory politician Lord Cockfield (in my mind the most significant Tory politician of the 1980s after Thatcher).

The Conservatives in parliament under Thatcher had endorsed the Single European Act, the biggest shift to date (and perhaps ever) of power from member states to the Brussels institutions.

There were exceptions, of course, though Powell had long left the Tory party and the most prominent Euro-dissident John Biffen was famously “semi-detached” in cabinet).

But the Conservative Party at the time of Thatcher’s “1992” speech and then her “Bruges” speech was a pro-European party with an impeccable track record.

*

But.

The Bruges speech soon became something it was not.

In the speech, Thatcher states (in a phrase which riles many Brexiteers):

“Britain does not dream of some cosy, isolated existence on the fringes of the European Community. Our destiny is in Europe, as part of the Community.”

The speech was not a rejection of the EEC.

It instead was setting out a vision of the EEC.

And the venue was important: this was not like Theresa May seeking to placate political backbenchers.  Thatcher was leading from the front, at the College of Europe, seeking to take on those with alternative views.

The Bruges speech was a call to arms, not the sound of the bugle of defeat.

And it was, perhaps, the last “pro” European speech of any UK prime minister.

*

After 1988 the attitude of many Tories, and of the right wing press hardened.

1990 was the year both of the infamous Spectator cover of Kohl as Hitler and of The Sun’s Up Yours Delors.

This was two years on from the “1992” and “Bruges” speeches of Thatcher.

Something had changed.

The tendency became not to show that the “Bruges” vision of the future of Europe was better and more attractive than the federalist alternative.

Instead the other side became the enemy, to be insulted and reviled.

As far as I recall, no leading minister from John Major downwards made a pro-European speech after he became prime minister in 1990.

The divisions in the Tory party during the passage of the Maastricht treaty became deep and hard.  Eurosceptics became, in effect, a party within a party, with their own groups and publications.

There was lots of politics.  MPs had the whip withdrawn.  There was a leadership challenge.  MPs in favour of taking the EEC seriously resigned the whip and joined over parties.

Elsewhere in the EU of 1992, the Danes rejected the Maastricht treaty to the jubilation of many Tories in the UK.  The French had only a bare majority in their referendum

And then there was also “Black Wednesday” of 1992, which discredited (or was seen to discredit) those in favour of UK participating in monetary and currency union.

It was not becoming difficult to be an opponent of the EU project.

1992 was turning out to be a different sort of year for the European project than that envisaged in Thatcher’s speeches of 1988.

*

Within four of years of 1988, Thatcher’s positive vision of what the EEC seemed out-of-date. Only her warnings of the other more federalist visions seemed relevant.  The EU seemed not to be going in Thatcher’s direction.

And in later years, Thatcher was reported to be no longer a fan of the EU in any way.

Her supporters and fans no longer sought to reform the European project but to move the UK away from its centre.  The Conservatives left the centre-right group in the European parliament.  Every opt-out was received with a demand for more.

And so contrary to the “Bruges” speech, many of those who followed her sought some form of existence on the fringes of the European Community as our destiny no longer seemed to be in Europe, as part of the Community.

Perhaps given the push to European integetion at Maastricht and afterwards, perhaps that shift in attitude was inevitable.

But in 1988 things did seem very different.

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16 thoughts on “The contexts of Thatcher’s Bruges speech of 1988”

  1. Thank you for this a great post (and the related FT piece). One comment if I may could be that the view presented is too UK-centric, perhaps of necessity. I remember that Tony Judt in his “Postwar” provided a very clear European perspective account of why Maastricht was necessary when it was pushed through and it had a a lot to do with the re-unification of Germany that took place shortly beforehand (rather than the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe generally).

    1. Here is one quote from Judt’s Postwar on the change of the French position in the run up to Maastricht; “The Germans could have their unity, but at a price. There must be no question of an enhanced Germany taking an independent path, much less reverting to its old middle-European priorities. Kohl must commit himself to pursuing the European project under a Franco-German condominium, and Germany was to be bound into an ‘ever-closer’ union—whose terms, notably a common European currency, would be enshrined in a new treaty (to be negotiated the following year in the Dutch city of Maastricht)”

  2. As regards project 1992, this link collects together a lot of the documents.

    https://www.cvce.eu/en/collections/unit-content/-/unit/02bb76df-d066-4c08-a58a-d4686a3e68ff/5673993b-5e5d-4ee3-9d12-4bd18e9fb9d6/Resources

    It’s from the period 1985-7, but just browsing the white papers gives the sinking feeling that no British front-rank politician since Cockfield ever read them, because the issues are suddenly very topical. So for example, from the 1st white paper Section III “The removal of physical barriers”.

    “Just as travellers going from one Member State to another are subjected to checks and controls at frontiers, so too are goods. Again, if frontier controls are to be abolished, we need not find alternative ways of meeting the administrative, fiscal, health and other needs which they are designed to serve.

    The welter of papers which had until recently to be processed at frontiers was a lorry-driver’s nightmare. But each form, each rubber stamp has a reason behind it: collecting taxes, collecting statistics, controlling plant and animal diseases, licensing restricted exports and imports, enforcing trade quotas, keeping out banned products, and many others.

    To check all goods vehicles systematically for all these purposes requires considerable time which inevitably means long delays, especially at the busiest crossing points Dover, Calais, Aosta and the Mont-Blanc Tunnel.”

  3. Brilliant, thanks very much David for contextualising Thatcher’s Bruges speech. During the 2016 referendum debate I referred people to her 1975 speech to open the Conservative campaign to remain in the then EEC. https://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/102675
    I’m sure you’re familiar with it. As with the Bruges speech, she had a pragmatism about European relations.

    “But for Britain to leave would mean denouncing a Treaty.

    Britain does not break Treaties.

    It would be bad for Britain, bad for our relations with the rest of the world and bad for any future treaty on trade we may need to make.

    As Harold Macmillan said recently: “We used to stand for good faith. That is the greatest strength of our commerce overseas. And we are now being asked to tear up a Treaty into which we solemnly entered” .

    The choice is clear.

    We can play a role in developing Europe, or we can turn our backs on the Community.

    By turning our backs we would forfeit our right to influence what happens in the Community.

    But what happens in the Community will inevitably affect us.

    The European Community is a powerful group of nations.

    With Britain as a member, it is more powerful; without Britain it will still be powerful.

    We can play a leading role in Europe, but if that leadership is not forthcoming Europe will develop without Britain.

    Britain, if she denounced a treaty, cannot then complain if Europe develops in conflict with Britain’s interests. [end p4]

    It’s up to us to tell our people what is at risk in this referendum. We have no reason to feel complacent. We must tell them of the advantages of Britain’s membership, not simply in general terms, but how it has helped their area in particular.”

    I was never a Thatcherite and, indeed left London to work in Paris in 1984 as the opportunities were better there. (Philip Hammond’s budget reference to the UK as the land of opportunities made my heart bleed for young Britons today whose freedom to move freely around Europe may well be curtailed.)

    From a continental point of view, I warmed to Thatcher’s Fontainebleau “I want my money back” speech, as she sincerely took the EC seriously about what it was doing and should be doing with the money. She was respected for that and help the EC>EU make great progress towards Maastricht and the Single Market.

    Such a shame that her European legacy has been misinterpreted in this way and I was no fan of her social and economic policy and that legacy.

  4. Mrs May may want to attract the brightest to come here when we Brexit, but with the likely shambles as we go though the two years of ‘implementation’ of something neither yet defined, nor agreed only the dim might make themselves available. Implementation of the proposed new immigration policy is some years off.

  5. «The EU seemed not to be going in Thatcher’s direction.»

    This story about the Conservatives and the european project is better than most, but it omits the critical aspect of the the thatcherite plan for the single market.

    That was the belief that, boosted by lower wages and weaker workers rights, businesses based in England (and mostly owned by USA and japanese companies) would flood the single market with cheaper products then those of french and german companies ballasted by good wages and stronger worker rights, with the outcome their being acquired by english based businesses or going bankrupt.

    That is the single market would become either dominated by England or french and german voters would demand to exit the EU to protect their jobs and wages and labour rights from the english competition.

    That worked out not as well as expected, so the blairites (quasi-thatcherites) decided to double down by opening immigration before most other EU countries to eastern European low ewage workers, hoping that their low wages and lack of vote to demand better worker rights would finally result in a surge of english low price exports to the french and german markets, resulting in either their domination by highly profitably english based businesses, or the exit from the EU of France and Germany because of voter resentment of an EU that was making them unemployed.

    It did not quite work out as intended…

  6. «Harold Macmillan had seen EEC membership as a replacement for the loss of empire and the limitations of the commonwealth.»

    He changed his opinion, as this article reports:

    https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/review-essay/1999-09-01/importance-being-english-eyeing-sceptered-isles

    «England fought Louis XIV and Napoleon, whose Continental System excluded the British isles from European trade. Young quotes de Gaulle’s memoirs on a meeting with Harold Macmillan: “The Common Market is the Continental System all over again,” the British prime minister told his old friend, the French president. “Britain cannot accept it,” Macmillan told him. “I beg you to give it up.”»

    That was a typical “the English Empire is overseas” point of view. When the “overseas” natives got Maxim guns too that point of view became rather less tenable.

  7. Excellent, David. I agree all this.

    And if you add the wider socio-economic context as well, and how that interacted with the changes in the Tory Party in the period you describe, I think you get more or less the full picture.

    If you will forgive me. Thesis:

    1. The core of Thatcher’s winning electoral coalition was essentially business and the metropolitan and non-metropolitan middle classes united against Old Labour and the unions.

    2. By the end of the 1980s this started to fragment. Partly as a result of the defeat of ‘the enemy’ – your point. But also because the very success of Thatcher’s reforms produced changes in UK society that undermined it from within.

    3. The deregulatory reforms and expansion of higher education meant the erstwhile impoverished ‘left behind’ inner cities sucked in the young from elsewhere to new businesses, became gentrified, and gave birth to a youthful, vibrant, liberal metropolitan culture, a large part of which of course defected to Labour with the advent of Tony Blair.

    4. In turn the suburbs and shires of non-metropolitan Britain became relatively older and relatively ‘left behind’, looking on ‘from the outside in’ on changes in the cities changing Britain in so many different ways that seemed increasingly alien to them.

    5. Thus the birth of the ‘two nations’ with radically differing social attitudes that you see in, for example, Lord Ashcroft’s post Brexit polling on the differing attitudes of Leavers and Remainers to feminism, multiculturalism, immigration (natch), environmentalism, the internet (I kid you not), ‘political correctness’ capitalism, globalisation, etc.

    6. Key point: it’s not so much a question or relative wealth and poverty. Many of the older non-metropolitan middle classes after all have property wealth beyond the dreams of younger metropolitans struggling to get on the housing ladder and reliant on the bank of mum and dad (which is why the anti-elite’ trope is a bit ridiculous, not to say dishonest). But of RELATIVE loss of status. In particular a relative loss of status of a part of society – the Telegraph and Mail reading classes, if you like – accustomed to thinking of themselves as, in the telling phrases, ‘middle England’, ‘the heart the nation’, ’the backbone of the country’, people who thought they had a settled and valued place in the national pecking order, but then perceived that seemingly under threat.

    7. Understand this and you understand the visceral appeal of the slogans ‘take back control’, ‘no one listens to us’*, ‘the country is going in the wrong direction’, ‘we just want our country back’ etc.

    (* they are right about this, BTW. The ‘left behind white working class’ have been endlessly analysed since the Referendum. And sure their switch from the Blairite coalition at the end was critical at the margin. But the core of the Eurosceptic vote was not them, but was and for years had been the Telegraph and Mail reading classes – who are scarcely mentioned at all. The interesting question is not why Sunderland or Stoke voted Leave. But why South Norfolk, Dorset, Devon, Worcestershire, Aylesbury, Chorleywood etc did.)

    8. Understand this and you understand how hundreds of thousands were brought onto the streets by these resentments first, not in relation to Europe, but as part of the Countryside Alliance marches – ostensibly about fox hunting, but clearly speaking to a much wider set of resentment of non-metropolitan Britain towards a New Labour government that was, not unfairly, seen to have its centre of gravity in metropolitan areas, and thus seen as a harbinger of the marginalisation of non-metropolitan Britain.

    9. The changes in the Tory party in the late 1980s and early 1990s you outline, plus the Eurosceptic battles of the later Thatcher and John Major years, I think, took place some way ‘above’ this widening division in UK society. But gradually they came to ‘connect’. As usual several causes can be seen to operate at once:

    First: after Blair’s victory more and more Tory politicians came to perceive the division maybe offered a path back to power, and before the interregnum of Cameron’s ‘Blair lite’ approach each of Hague, IDS and Howard all more or less consciously tired to exploit this division to build a new winning electoral coalition. They failed, But maybe they were just too early. And they had to wait until after the financial crisis and New Labour fell apart until the divisions were great enough to permit this.

    Second: your point that every party needs an ‘enemy’ to unite it. With the demise of Old Labour, the enemy became by default Blair and New Labour, and by extension the enemy became the modern metropolitan Britain and its mores he/they represented. Think of the daily feed in the Mail and the Telegraph of articles against ‘feminism’, ‘multiculturalism’, ‘political correctness gone mad’, ‘London elites’ etc. It would be an exaggeration, but not too far-fetched a one, to say the EU ultimately became a collateral casualty in a UK civil war. (For its part, metropolitan Britain for a long time largely ignored its non-metropolitan cousin, which proved to be a mistake. But after the Referendum it noticed it all too well, and now the animosity is mutual and intense).

    Third: the very human fault, to which politicians are especially prone, of saying – and persuading yourself you truly believe – what people want to hear. What you need to get on a constituency shortlist, to get articles published in the Mail and Telegraph, to have flattering profiles written about you by those papers, to get jobs in right wing think tanks, and, if you are not in the Cameron government, to badge yourself as an honest principled rebel rather than just a career also-ran. Thus and to that extent does party democracy work: the overwhelmingly elderly party membership based in the safe seats in the shires and suburbs had these attitudes, so the MPs gradually came to reflect that more and more too, with each new intake, and as each new leadership election hove into view.

    Fourth – and this takes us right back to your points about Thatcher and Bruges – in the intervening years business and the Tories moved more and more away from one another. Partly as the Tories were out of power for years and New Labour represented business equally well – in fact better as they were in power. Partly because most business leaders were part of the metropolitan culture on the other side of ‘the divide’. And partly, as Ken Clarke pointed out in his autobiography, the party membership and its MPs were drawn less and less from the business community and more and more from retirees, activists, and a purely ‘political’ class of MPs and staff, who stereotypically went from Oxford PPE undergrad course (usually concentrating on ‘PP’ rather then ‘E’)to Conservative Central Office to MP.

    10. This meant they did not understand what Thatcher, in Bruges, understood all too well. Sure there are good and bad regulations. But regulation per se is not inimical to a properly functioning market, but qua ‘the rule of law’ its very basis. The wherewithal that gives the stability on which people can contract and trade. That is why Thatcher and Cockfield insisted the only way the single market could be built was on the basis of harmonised law and regulation and enforcement. (As Ivan Rogers said the other day, if they had tried to build it out of ‘mutual recognition’ of different laws and systems it would just never have happened.) Just as centuries earlier the ‘common law’ – note the name – of the King’s Courts in England overtook and replaced the local law and customs of the counties and regions. Just as free trade in the British Empire was based not solely on the ‘buccaneering spirit’ of ships’ captains but on the uniform and uniquely powerful English Law of Contract authoritatively interpreted and applied by the uniquely powerful and uniquely free from political interference English courts.

    11. In that sense the ‘free trade’ ideology of the Brexiteers and the likes of IEA is nothing like Thatcher’s understanding of the term, but more akin to a Guillan-Barre syndrome of the body politic, a pathological auto-immune response that misidentifies the body’s own nervous system as an alien pathogen, hacking away at the very thing that allows the body to function, and so results in the Tory Free traders implementing the greatest act of protectionism in modern history by destroying the UK’s participation in Thatcher’s Single Market, even as they declare their devotion to the free trade cause and her legacy….. when as you have shown it is nothing like that at all.

    But forgive me, I have rambled enough.

  8. Great piece, thanks.
    My memory of those years is dominated by the growing paranoia throughout the U.K. political and media class that a reunified Germany meant diminished U.K. influence in Europe. As observed already by Stanislav Varkalov here, the “European” reaction to reunification was Maastricht. The U.K. reacted by making redoubling efforts to be BFF of USA (thereby undermining the Bruges vision). Inadvertently, Thatcher had set this course by appearing to lead the leader of the free world (Reagan). This overconfident path born of paranoia lead directly to Iraq and Brexit IMO.

  9. ‘SJXT’ what you write seems to me vaguely believable but rather pointless, because it is based on the fantasy that people vote mostly their cultural values.

    But thatcherites have always voted their wallets, and any discussion of economy or politics in England that does not put property prices and rents at the centre is a waste of time at best, if not misleading.
    Booming (in the south-east) property prices and rents is why the average tory voters votes tory (whether the brand is Conservative or New Labour), because the average tory voter gets £10,000 to £40,000 a year no-work no-tax income, and they really care about that.
    Some of them may care about “la grandeur” of the English Empire and their status as “upstairs” people, but really tory politics is entirely based on rentierism.

    Now that Labour is back to being the party of renters, northerners, and wage earners, that’s the difference that matters.

    The EU story and “culture wars” are very secondary to that.

  10. «the “European” reaction to reunification was Maastricht. The U.K. reacted by making redoubling efforts to be BFF of USA»

    That “BFF” (which really means being a protectorate) goes back to Churchill (and Attlee) who chose to put England under USA suzerainty, to protect the fortunes of the english elites from communism. This has resulted in situations like the sacking of Her Majesty’s own Secretary of State for the Foreign Office by Condoleeza Reece (or D Rumsfeld) for insufficient far-right zeal.

    The big deal is that England was soundly defeated by the Axis and the USA in WW2, and that defeat and the inability to come to terms with it poisons much of english culture and politics to this day. Some quotes:

    “Winston Churchill in the Twenty First Century”
    edited by David Cannadine, Roland Quinault:
    «Churchill had one great post-war aspiration of his own: the establishment of an Anglo-American world order on the basis of an ever closer union of the two great branches of the “English-Speaking Peoples”. In 1943, when his hopes of Anglo-American harmony were at their zenith, he even proposed after the war the establishment of a common citizenship. The irony was, of course, that one of the war aims of the Roosevelt administration was the liquidation of the British Empire, and the expansion of American power and influence at the expense of Britain.
    By the end of 1943 it was clear to Churchill that he could no longer rely on American co-operation. As he explained to Violet Bonham Carter: “When I was at Teheran I realized for the first time what a very small country this is. On the one one hand the big Russian bear with its paws outstretched — on the other the great American Elephant — and between them the poor little British Donkey — who is the the only one that knows the right way home”.
    »

    Churchill to De Gaulle, 1944-06-04, quoted in Jean Lacouture “Le Rebelle”, 1984.
    «”How can you think that we British would take a position separate from that of the United States? We are going to liberate Europe but it is because the Americans are with us in doing it. Because every time we must choose between Europe and the open seas, we shall always choose the open seas. And every time I have to choose between you and Roosevelt, I will always choose Roosevelt.”»

    Note how delusional he still was in 1944 with that “every time we must choose between Europe and the open seas, we shall always choose the open seas”, as if the latter was still an option that England could freely choose, or afford to choose.

    «(thereby undermining the Bruges vision).»

    What ended up undermined was the St. Malo Declaration, a very important “detail” that was shredded by the “Leave” vote.

  11. Thank you for this excellent and timely reminder. Just one reflection on your suggestion that the move to greater integration somehow got ahead of consolidating the single market. I was struck at the time by how far Lord Cockfield went on this and well remember him saying ‘you can’t have a single market without a single currency’. One can debate that question, but his own motivation at the time was really the single market and not some kind of disembodied ‘integration’ concept.

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