A BETRAYAL OF
OUR NATION – THE EURO CON
A BATTLE FOR
words that follow are extracts of a book by Christopher Booker and Richard
North ‘ A Secret History of The European Union ‘revealing the secrets of the
bureaucratic and corrupt European Union. Which is available from Continuum
Books on November the 30th at £20 plus (£1.99p&p) or earlier at
£16 plus (£1.99p&p) to order a copy call 08701610870
THE GREAT EURO DECEPTION
When Margaret Thatcher was toppled as Tory leader, there
were many who could not hide their glee- not least her predecessor. Edward
Heath rang his office with a cheerful admonition ‘Rejoice! Rejoice!’ and
celebrated by buying his staff champagne.
The Iron Lady had been destroyed by her
uncompromising stand against European political integration – a cause Heath had
spent much of his career promoting, albeit largely covertly. Small wonder that
he was so happy to dance on Mrs Thatcher’s grave. Today, in the public mind
she is still regarded as the European Union’s most vehement foe.
Yet the true
story- as so often with the EU, an institution that was built on deception – is
very different from the myth.
Heath had deliberately set out to deceive the British People over his European
Union Policy, by pretending it was all about promoting trade, rather than
building a ‘supranational’
odd thing about Lady Thatcher is the extent to which she allowed herself to be
much of her premiership, rather than being a vigilant opponent of Federalism ‘
she was its dupe. In a way that most of her admirers still fail to understand,
even many of her supposed victories in Brussels were actually catastrophic
defeats for Britain.
Surprising, Thatcher had started out a naïve
enthusiast for the so-called European Project. When she became Tory Leader in
1979, she happily spouted the conventional wisdom about promoting peace and
In the referendum called by Harold Wilson’s
Labour Government that same year to confirm Britain’s continuing membership,
she urged her supporters to vote Yes!
‘It is a myth that the Community is
simply a bureaucracy with no concern for the Individual,’ she said. It is a
myth that our membership will suffocate National Tradition and Culture.’
Even after she became Prime Minister in
1979, she was still hailing the Community as a force for freedom’. She was
though, determined to sort out the notoriously wasteful Common Agricultural
Policy and to rein in Community spending
Her troubles began when she demanded
large reductions in the amount Britain paid into Europe’s coffers. Today this
is routinely portrayed as a small- minded piece of chauvinism, but it was
hardly an outrageous request. The previous Labour administration had made it,
too, pointing out that Britain would soon be the Community’s largest net
contributor, while ranking seventh for nation income per head.
Unfortunately, as Thatcher
discovered, her fellow heads of government had no intention of giving back a
penny – and treated her with open contempt. The German Chancellor at the time,
Helmut Schmidt, pretended to fall asleep when she was speaking.
Soon, it became accepted wisdom that
Thatcher was harming her own case by her stridency, European enthusiasts tutted
in disapproval at her supposed shrewish style in Community meetings. Again,
however, the TRUTH IS THAT SUCH COMPLAINTS WERE NOTHING NEW. The previous
Prime Minister, Jim Callaghan, had come in for identical criticism. As Foreign Secretary under Wilson, putting our
case in Brussels he was described as ‘a man to whom rudeness comes naturally’.
He was said to have ‘ a hectoring manner in the Council of Ministers that would
conspire to lose even a cast-iron case’. In fact, like Thatcher,
Callaghan had merely been trying to defend his Country’s Interests robustly –
an example set conspicuously by France.
Yet, somehow, whenever Britain behaved
like this, it was she alone that was considered awkward and obstructive. Only
after five years of relentless bargaining did Thatcher finally get her Rebate.
She claimed a famous triumph- but the truth, though still little known, is that
she had been comprehensively outfoxed. Astonishingly, included in the agreement was
a crucial bit of small print designed to make us fund much of the so-called
This decreed that whenever Britain
applied for Common Agricultural Policy funds to help our farmers, anything over
an agreed threshold triggered a ‘correction mechanism’ allowing the European
Commission to claw back a huge chunk of it (currently, 71%). In other words, by applying for funds from
Brussels, the British Treasury would simply saddle itself with an enormous bill.
disastrous consequences are that Britain has, wherever possible, avoided
applying for funds, which our hard-pressed farmers desperately need. Meanwhile
other EU states dip into the pot at will, giving our competitors a precious
Thatcher was caught out in equally
spectacular style four years later, when she insisted on swingeing cuts in
subsidies to France’s farmers. Again,
it looked at first as if she had won a great triumph. She defied the new German
Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, despite his banging the table and bellowing at her. In
return for her eventual gains she had to make a concession and accepted an
increase in the Community’s budget for Regional Funds. It seemed a small price to
pay. But the cunning Jacques Delors, President of the Commission had outsmarted
her. With his vast new Regional Budget came the power to deal directly with
local and Regional Authorities – completely bypassing National governments.
Councils and Regions were encouraged to
apply directly to Europe for their money [It certainly was their money already]
and rushed to open their own offices in Brussels to get their snouts in the
trough. At a stroke, National Governments were relegated to the status of passive bystanders-
a crucial step on the road towards a Federal Europe.
From this point on, Brussels
would shower more than £20 billion a year on tens of thousands of projects,
from unfinished Greek motorways to the World Disabled Sailing Championships in
a condition of receiving Brussels funding was that the project should exhibit
the’ ring of stars’ flag, to convey the subliminal message that this had all
been achieved through the selfless benevolence of the EU.
mandatory publicity never revealed, however, was that for every £1 received
from Brussels, British taxpayers had already paid £2 in budgetary contributions
– and then had to stump up a further a£1 in so-called ‘matching’ funds. What
Thatcher failed to see as she blundered into these traps was just how quickly
momentum was developing for further European integration.
Nor did her advisers, notably her
Geoffrey Howe, warn her of the dangers. Their biggest blunder, it turns out, was to miss
the fact that, in the early 1980s, a small group of Continental politicians,
led by Delors, France’s President Mitterrand and an Italian MEP Altiero Spinelli
were hatching an audacious scheme to turn to Common Market into a ‘European
Union, complete with its own currency.
So ambitious was their project that they
planned it in two stages, each needing a major new treaty. One wold be known as
the European Act, the second as Maastricht. On all this, Thatcher was
kept completely in the dark by her advisers, not the least the ‘Rolls-Royce
minds’ of the Foreign Office.
she went to the Milan summit in 1985 she imagined she was merely going to
discuss the setting up of a Single Market, a project after her own heart, supposedly
intended to scrap trade barriers and open up Europe for free economic
competition. But she was ambushed by Delors and his allies. The Single Market had been
used only as bait – to lure her to accepting a further integration.
Delors insisted that such wide –ranging reforms
could not be implemented without adjusting the Community’s decision-making
structure to limit national vetoes that might otherwise hold things up.