Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Europe was never just an economic project

I guess Farage and his motley crew are working on the basis that if they keep repeating nonsense people will come to accept it is true. .One particular oft repeated bit of nonsense is that in 1975 we were asked to join a free trade area and not a wider political project.

I was about in those days and I have checked my recollections (it is never wise to rely on one's memory) Reader may not know that we left a free trade area EFTA to join the wider political project of Europe. This was not done underhand it was explicit in the negotiations and in the prospectus that was set out.

Here is part of the governments statement:

  But all of us are aware of the long-term potential for Europe, and therefore for Britain, of the creation of a single market of approaching 300 million people, with all the scope and incentive which this will provide for British industry, and of the enormous possibilities which an integrated strategy for technology, on a truly continental scale, can create. I am glad to say that my right honourable friend and I found that this concept has made a great impact throughout Europe.
"But whatever the economic arguments, the House will realise that, as I have repeatedly made clear, the Government's purpose derives above all from our recognition that Europe is now faced with the opportunity of a great move forward in political unity and that we can—and indeed must—play our full part in it.
"We do not see European unity as something narrow or inward-looking. Britain has her own vital links through the Commonwealth, and in other ways, with other continents. So have other European countries. Together we can ensure that Europe plays in world affairs the part which the Europe of to-day is not at present playing. For a Europe that fails to put forward its full economic strength will never have the political influence which I believe it could and should exert within the United Nations, within the Western Alliance and as a means for effecting a lasting d├ętente between East and West; and equally contributing in ever fuller measure to the solution of the world's North-South problem to the needs of the developing world. 

You can read it in full here

I particularly like Frank Byers contribution to that debate:

As the House knows, we have been advocating this for over ten years. We certainly wish them every success. Indeed, if our application succeeds, this could be the beginning of a new era, not only for this country but for Europe as a whole. We might all go forward much stronger as a political entity in the future, and also stronger economically

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