Britons voted to leave the European Union on June 23, 2016 in a historic referendum, billed by many as the largest democratic exercise in UK history. More than three years later, though, it is still unclear when, how and if the country will withdraw from the bloc. Against all odds, Boris Johnson managed to renegotiate a deal with the EU in October, but MPs rejected his three-day timeline to push it through, effectively leaving the Prime Minister’s pledge to leave by October 31 in tatters.
Hoping to end the three-year deadlock, Britons will now go to the polls on December 12.
Since the Labour Party’s Brexit policy now sees a second referendum with the option of remaining, though, Britain might end up never leaving Brussels.
It has become clear that the European issue has had seismic consequences for British politics and, according to unearthed reports, it has been like this ever since the country first joined.
Perhaps the most prescient remark ever made about Britain and Europe was made nearly 70 years ago, in 1950, by the Labour Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin.
When it was proposed that Britain could join the European Coal and Steel Community – the precursor to the European Union – Mr Bevin said: “If you open that Pandora’s Box, you never know what Trojan horses will jump out.”
The box was first opened by former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in 1961 when Britain applied to join the European Community.
It was then opened again by Edward Heath when he took Britain into the EEC in 1973 after a bitter parliamentary battle to ratify the treaty of accession.
Mr Heath has been accused many times of having lied to his electorate about the repercussions of Britain’s membership in the bloc.
In June 1971, a White Paper had been sent to every home in the UK, promising: “There is no question of Britain losing essential sovereignty.”
Then, in a television broadcast in January 1973 to mark his signing of the Treaty of Rome, Mr Heath went even further.
He said: “There are some in this country who fear that, in going into Europe, we shall in some way sacrifice independence and sovereignty.
“These fears, I need hardly say, are completely unjustified.”
However, Mr Heath’s assertion is largely at odds with what he verifiably already knew about the EEC and its true plans.
According to files relating to Mr Heath’s application to join the Community, released by the Public Record Office at Kew in 2001, the former Prime Minister was fully aware of Germany’s plan – long before he took Britain into the EEC in 1973.
In June 1970, the Council of Ministers of the Community approved the plan of then Prime Minister of Luxembourg Pierre Werner, issued in his “Interim Report on the Establishment by Stages of Economic and Monetary Union”.
Less than two weeks after the report was published, on November 9, 1970, the Foreign Office produced an assessment on the so-called Werner plan.
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In complete contrast with Mr Heath’s claims, civil servants suggested that if the plan was fully implemented, member states would have ended up with less autonomy than US states as the EEC‘s aim was to become a political union.
The assessment said: “At the ultimate stage, economic sovereignty would to all intents and purposes disappear at the national level and the Community would itself be the master of overall economic policy.
“The degree of freedom which would then be vested in national governments might indeed be somewhat less than the autonomy enjoyed by the constituent states of the USA.”
Published at Thu, 14 Nov 2019 14:44:00 +0000