Brexit politicians have sold to the nation that Britain must have 100% sovereignty – a key reason for leaving the European Union.
But wiser politicians know better. Former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, was one of them.
In a Parliamentary session back in December 1989, about her latest conference with the 11 other leaders of the European Community nations meeting at the European Council in Strasbourg, Mrs Thatcher explained to MPs:
“When you enter into international treaties you voluntarily give up a certain part of your sovereignty, because perhaps you are pooling it with others, because that is the way it has to be done in a world which is very multinational.”
She added about the meeting of Community leaders:
“What emerged most strongly is the degree to which the Community and the 12 member states can act as the driving force in the development of the whole of Europe, at a turning point in the continent’s history.
“The Community should be an example of how free and democratic nations can work ever more closely together, while remaining open to the outside world.
“That is the way in which Britain wants the Community to develop, and, despite disagreements on some points, the Strasbourg Council encourages us to believe that that is how the Community will develop, with Britain playing a very full part.”
“The nations of Europe are drawing closer together for economic purposes.
“That will be a considerable force in the world and should give much greater opportunities for employment in this country and for prosperity in general. It will be very good for all our peoples.”
▪ UNION OF BRITAIN AND FRANCE
Other British Prime Ministers have also supported that the pooling of sovereignty, in the right circumstances, can be for the good of the nation.
After all, it was during the Second World War that Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, announced in June 1940 the ‘Declaration of Union’ between Great Britain and France.
With the full backing of his Cabinet, Churchill stated:
“The two governments declare that France and Great Britain shall no longer be two nations, but one Franco-British Union.
“Every citizen of France will enjoy immediately citizenship of Great Britain; every British subject will become a citizen of France.”
An Anglo-French stamp was even designed to commemorate the proposed Anglo-Franco union, but the Nazi invasion of France scuppered those plans.
The proposals did demonstrate, however, that Churchill was in favour of political union between European countries.
It was also Churchill who, in 1950, called for the creation of a European Army “…under a unified command, and in which we should all bear a worthy and honourable part.” (France objected to this plan).
In a debate in Parliament in June 1950 to discuss a united Europe, Churchill explained the circumstances under which the Conservative and Liberal parties would be prepared to part with “any degree of national sovereignty”.
He replied, “without hesitation” that, “we are prepared to consider, and if convinced to accept, the abrogation of national sovereignty, provided that we are satisfied with the conditions and the safeguards.”
He further explained:
“National sovereignty is not inviolable, and that it may be resolutely diminished for the sake of all the men in all the lands finding their way home together.”
▪ WE ARE ALL INTERDEPENDENT
When in 1961 Prime Minister Harold Macmillan applied for Britain to join the European Community – an application that received Churchill’s support – he explained to the nation that it would involve the sharing of some sovereignty.
Mr Macmillan said:
“Accession to the Treaty of Rome would not involve a one-sided surrender of ‘sovereignty’ on our part, but a pooling of sovereignty by all concerned, mainly in economic and social fields.
“In renouncing some of our own sovereignty we would receive in return a share of the sovereignty renounced by other members.”
“The talk about loss of sovereignty becomes all the more meaningless when one remembers that practically every nation, including our own, has already been forced by the pressures of the modern world to abandon large areas of sovereignty and to realise that we are now all inter-dependent.
“Britain herself has freely made surrenders of sovereignty in NATO and in many other international fields on bigger issues than those involved in the pooling of sovereignty required under the Treaty of Rome.”
▪ CLOSE PARTNERSHIP
It was another Prime Minister, Edward Heath, who negotiated the terms of our membership of the European Community – terms democratically agreed by our Parliament in Westminster – and he also explained to the nation just before we joined:
“The Community which we are joining is far more than a common market. It is a community in the true sense of the word.“It is concerned not only with the establishment of free trade, economic and monetary union and other major economic issues – important though these are – but also, as the Paris summit meeting has demonstrated, with social issues that affect us all – environmental questions, working conditions in industry, consumer protection, aid to development areas and vocational training.”
“Above all, the European Community is a community of peoples, and in joining this new association of nations we are committing ourselves not only to a series of policies or institutions but to a close partnership with our western European neighbours in which we will all work together rather than separately.”
▪ GOING IT ALONE
But despite the fact that “close partnership” and “pooling of sovereignty” with our European neighbours were policies strongly supported by EVERY British Prime Minster from 1957 to 2016, the current lot in charge believe it’s better to go it alone, work separately and not closely together.
Outside the EU, of course, Britain will only be able to look on as decisions about the running and future direction of our continent are made without us, even though those decisions will affect us just as much, whether we are a member or not.
That to me doesn’t look like gaining sovereignty. It looks like losing sovereignty.
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