Theresa May will travel to Berlin and Paris tomorrow for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. The talks come the day before a critical crunch summit in Brussels, during which EU leaders will decide whether or not to accept another delay to Brexit. While Mrs Merkel is seen as being supportive, No.10 is concerned Mr Macron might adopt a much tougher approach and attach conditions to any extension of Article 50.
As Brexit uncertainty looms with an exit date still unclear, a newly documentary suggests the UK may have never found itself in the EU in the first place if it was not for a “complete fantasy” Britons fell for.
Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath took Britain into the EEC – the precursor of the EU – in 1973, but his successor, Harold Wilson, was forced to call a plebiscite on the country’s membership after only two years.
Two-thirds of the population wanted Britain out, and Labour’s NEC also strongly opposed membership.
The referendum saw Britons divided into Yes and No campaigns, as opposed to 2016’s “Leave” and “Remain”.
According to 2005 documentary “How we Fell for Europe”, Germany’s post-war economic miracle “aroused mixed emotions in Britain”, which included “fear, envy and grudging admiration”.
“No” Campaign Secretary Peter Clarke argued those sentiments were the reason why Britain ultimately voted to stay in the Community.
He said: “Back in 1975, because Germany was bubbling with prosperity many people rather assumed that Germany’s economic vitality was a sort of bug we could all catch if we got closer to it.
“Complete fantasy. False argument, but people believed it then.”
On June 5, 1975, British voters approved continued EC/EEC membership by 67 percent to 33 percent on a national turnout of 64 percent.
Mr Clarke was not the only one who argued Germany’s post war miracle was a “complete fantasy”, which cost Britain a 40 years membership to the bloc.
British academic and politician Alan Sked also suggested European policy “has always been either irrelevant to European growth rates”.
In a newly-resurfaced report published on the London School of Economics blog, Mr Sked claimed that if British growth rates before the Thatcher revolution had been lower than those of France, Germany and Italy, was not because she was a late member of the EEC but was due to high overseas defence spending which led to continuous balance of payments crises” – something West Germany did not have.