Britain for and against Europe: British Politics and the Question of European Integration

Britain for and against Europe: British Politics and the Question of European Integration

Britain for and against Europe: British Politics and the Question of European Integration

Britain for and against Europe: British Politics and the Question of European Integration

Synopsis

This study, by a host of leading experts, provides the most up-to-date analysis of the often problematic relationship between various elements of British political culture and the developing European Union. The book opens with a general review of the history of this relationship since 1950, by Andrew Gamble. This is followed by ten chapters by other leading researchers, each examining a particular aspect of the relationship, including the view of Britain from Europe, the attitudes of Labour, Conservative, and Liberal Democratic parties, the Scottish and Welsh Nationalist parties, the Trade Unions, Business, the Civil Service, and the media. The study concludes with a review of the findings of these chapters, and a discussion of their implications for future relations between Britain and her European partners.

Excerpt

As Andrew Gamble observes in his chapter in this book, few would doubt that Britain's troubled relationship with the European Union has been one of the dominant and most divisive issues of modern British politics. Our title 'Britain for and against Europe' is a particularly apposite description of this relationship. The book primarily offers a research-based analysis of British elite attitudes towards Europe, including political parties, the civil service, trade unions, business, and the media. This analysis takes place at a time of what promises to be the most significant period in European history since the signing of the original Treaty of Rome. The book also includes a summary of Britain's troubled relationship with Europe over the last forty-five years and includes a final chapter that surveys Britain in Europe from a recent European perspective.

Britain has often been portrayed as the reluctant European partner in which the decisions to apply for membership were largely due to growing elite perceptions of Britain's relative economic weaknesses, the end of Empire, and the manifest failure of the special economic relationship with America to compensate for this. From the beginning, therefore, for many British politicians and officials, 'project Europe' was viewed more from national economic interests than any strong commitment to the wider political integrationist ideals of the founding fathers of Europe. Committed British Europeans like Edward Heath and Roy Jenkins, holding sincere beliefs in deeper European political cooperation to promote mutual prosperity and prevent another disastrous European war, have always existed, of course, but such sentiments have never really driven Britain's European agenda.

Since joining, the problem for the British is that the European Economic Community (EEC) has developed an overt political agenda . . .

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