A BETRAYAL OF
OUR NATION –CONSPIRATORS NAMED
Monnet was so inflated by his success with the Coal and
Steel Community that he made a rare misjudgement. He rashly floated plans for a
matching European Defence Community with its own army.
Again, he made
sure to find a front –man – in this case, French Prime Minister Rene Pleven, an
old business chum. Although, the defence scheme was entirely Monnet’s own, it
was accordingly known as the Pleven Plan, just like the Schuman Plan before it.
Despite such subterfuge, the move was too soon. The
nations of Europe, still living in the shadow of World War 11, were not ready
to hand over their soldiers to some higher authority.
Vehement opposition from De Gaulle brought Monnet’s
proposals crashing down, together with a separate scheme for a European
Political Community, designed to act as a ‘common roof’ over everything else.
The effect of
this humiliation on Monnet was profound. Recognising his mistake, he vowed
never to risk a similar defeat.
point on, the European project went under ground. Monnet ensured that the words
‘federal’ and ‘supranational’ were used as rarely as possible; his ultimate
goal would be left carefully undefined to avoid arousing opposition.
adopted what became known as ‘the Monnet method’ a steady, relentless but
deliberately low-key drive to extend the powers of the European bureaucracy
without anyone noticing. Each new
advance would be a means of gearing up for the next. Each new addition to the
bureaucracy’s area of competence might begin with a small, innocuous-seeming
proposal to which no one cold object, until the principle was conceded and the
powers could be progressively enlarged.
setting aside the sensitive topics of defence and ‘political’ union, Monnet now
reverted to his earlier strategy of securing integration through the economy.
The Treaty of Rome in 1957, setting up the so-called European Economic
Community was his next great step forward.
used a front-man to preside over the negotiations – Belgium politician Paul
Henri Spaak, one of his closest allies, who ensured that all mentions of
political union were suppressed, selling the treaty to the world as no more
than a deal to promote trade and prosperity.
careful to remain in the background, rather than provoke his enemies, but there
was no doubt that the deal was his brainchild. Spaak sent him a draft of a
crucial early memorandum with the words; ‘Ici votre bebe ‘ – ‘Here’s your
no part in the talks and did not sign up to the Rome treaty. According to
European enthusiasts, this was another occasion in which we missed an historic
opportunity to become involved and shape the project to reflect our own
interests. But as before, this stands the truth on its head.
record in promoting European co-operation was in fact, second to none – but we
had always chosen the inter- governmental route, through organisations such as
Nato, which Monnet abhorred.
masterstroke now was to ensure that the membership of the new EEC was
conditional on joining another of his proxy creations, Euratom, which was to
take control and ownership of all Europe’s nuclear materials.
At the time,
Britain was the only European power to possess nuclear weapons. Monnet knew
that she could never submit to Euratom’s rules, thus ruling her out of the EEC
It was the
action replay of the coal and steel fiasco. Far from Britain standing aloof,
Jean Monnet had again slammed the door in our face.
Eventually with our national self-confidence shattered
by the Suez debacle of 1956 and years of economic decline, Britain returned to the
EEC’s door, pleading to be admitted.
astonishingly, the man who helped clear the way the same man who had sent us
packing in the first place – the ubiquitous and scheming M. Monnet. This was
perhaps his most audacious piece of plotting of all.
desire to secure his old enemy’s entry arose from the need to find a
counterweight to France’s President de Gaulle, whose ruthless pursuit of
national self-interest was threatening to wreck Monnet’s federal dream.
Monnet decided that Britain’s presence would keep de Gaulle in check. But he
was determined to ensure that we entered the European club on his own terms.
for this mission was the American George Ball one of President John F Kennedy’s
most trusted advisers and another of Monnet’s many friends in high places.
Monnet visited the U.S twice in the early months of 1961 to brief Ball on the
favour he needed.
It was granted when the Tory Prime minister visited
Washington for a summit in April that year. Macmillan had barely sat down for
his first discussions with Kennedy when he was asked how America – Britain’s
closest ally – would react if he applied to join the EEC.
Kennedy passed the question
over to Ball who made it clear that the White House would support the
application only if Britain accepted the Common Market’s true goal was
political integration. ‘ I elaborated on this theme at some
length, noting the dangers of a mere commercial arrangement that would drain
the EEC of political content.’ ‘The PM seemed on the whole to be pleased and
important to realise the significance of this moment. As Cabinet papers from
the time confirm, it meant that Macmillan and his ministers- including the future
Premier Edward Heath – were fully aware of the wider political implications of
EEC membership. Indeed, Ball could not have been
clearer. In his own words, he explicitly warned his British guest ‘that the Rome treaty was not
merely a static document but a process leading towards political unification.
he was acting by proxy, as usual, this was a daring move by Monnet – one of the
rare occasions in which he allowed his true objectives to be revealed. But he knew that Macmillan
would not dare tell the British people the truth. Nor later, would
Heath. Instead, for
what they called’ presentational’ reasons, they persisted in the fiction that
the Common Market was essentially only an economic pact, concerned with trade
and jobs. Similarly
they played down the hugely damaging consequences for the Commonwealth of their
decision to join an inward looking protectionist bloc, membership of which would
force Britain to turn her back on her main trading partners.
This was deliberate deception. Monnet
had succeeded in infecting Britain with his brand of devious, dishonest
politics – with consequences that are still being felt
In the following years, President de Gaulle vetoing our EEC
application twice humiliated Britain; before it was finally accepted once he
had departed from the scene. To this day, de Gaulle’s veto is routinely
portrayed as a reflection of his arrogant personality and distain for the
English. In fact, it was hardheaded self-interest. De Gaulle was determined to
delay Britain’s entry until after agreement on the notorious Common
Agricultural Policy, which he carefully designed to heap extravagant subsidies
peasant farmers. Once this was in place, the truth is that he positively desired British
entry – since Britain, as a large importer of food, would pick up a huge part
of the bill (paid through import tariffs) while also buying vast quantities of
subsidised produce of France.
It was, put simply a stitch-up- another legacy of Jean Monnet,
who had established the underlying principle that any new member of the EEC had
to accept all the laws the existing members had agreed. This fundamental rule, which remains widely
misunderstood, ensured that Edward Heath’s so-called ‘negotiations’ over British entry were
no more than
a prolonged act of surrender. The very best he could obtain were
just temporary exemptions from particularly unwelcome laws, delaying rather
than avoiding their implementation. In reality, as a civil servant leading
Britain’s negotiating team admitted, Heath’s policy was to ‘swallow it whole
and swallow it now. [Not so many years ago a Minister making such a treaty on behalf of the
Crown would have been impeached in the House of Commons for High Treason]
especially disastrous after the existing members suddenly agreed to the
principle of equal access to ‘Community’ fishing waters, only hours before
Britain formally lodged its membership application. [What partners we have in
Europe – would we have conducted our negotiations in this manner in our past
history –I think not. Their taste of Democracy is only skin deep]
It was the start of a
process that leads to the eventual destruction of our fishing industry, as
foreign boats invaded our traditional fishing grounds
But thanks to
Monnet’s rules, since it was agreed before we joined, there was no way we could
opt out. A civil service memorandum reveals that Heath’s team were aware of the
dangers, but believed they could not afford to waste their ‘limited negotiating
capital’ in resisting. Their chosen policy was to avoid the subject of Britain’s fisheries as
much as possible, and secretly accept ‘that in the wider context they must be
regarded as expendable’.
It is no
coincidence the Heath himself – a passionate supporter of the European project,
who had negotiated Britain’s first unsuccessful application for admission under
Macmillan’s premiership – regarded Jean Monnet as a friend and mentor.
Heath’s handling of the
whole affair showed how much he had learned from the older man about the art of
dissembling. In particular, he persistently misrepresented ECC membership as a
mere trading issue when he knew that plans were already afoot in Brussels for
Monnet’s dream of full monetary and political union.
These plans had been the subject of an urgent
report to him by the Foreign Office, warning that they’ could imply the
ultimate creation of a European federal state’. The report stressed that
such a policy would be ‘irreversible’ and that its huge implications ‘ must be
accepted at the outset. But Heath didn’t merely know
of these plans – he was actively supporting them. In private discussions with De Gaulle’s
successor, President Georges Pompidou, he blithely affirmed Britain’s readiness
‘ to participate fully and in the European spirit’ in progress towards
The fact that few people in Britain knew
what he was up to was apparently an irrelevance. Absurdly, in a White
Paper presented to Parliament, Heath promised that joining the Community would
involve no surrender of ‘essential sovereignty’.
It was a direct untruth the Foreign Office papers had clearly set out the
extent to which Britain was about to surrender its power of self-government.
But nothing of this was admitted at the time. One internal memorandum even
justified the concealment by:
Suggesting that the British People would not notice what is happening
until the end of the century, by which time the process would be beyond recall.