THE RT. HON. HUGH GAITSKELL, C. B. E., M. P.
A great debate is now taking place in Britian about our proposed entry into the E. E. C. I shall not continue it here. But I would like to remove one misunderstanding.
Because some of us hold that the terms so far negotiated do not adequately fulfil the conditions which we consider reasonable and necessary before we enter, this does not mean that we are hostile to Europe or wish to isolate ourselves from our continental neighbours.
Indeed the popular description of the controversy "Should Britain go into Europe or not?" is misleading. Britian is heavily involved--militarily, commercially and culturally--in Western Europe and will remain so whether or not we enter the E. E. C.
If the terms should be such that we do not feel able to enter the E. E. C., the alternative is not isolation, but a relationship with E. E. C. which would be even closer and friendlier than at present, accompanied by the special links we already have with the overseas Commonwealth and with the rest of Western Europe through EFTA.
But it is not about the Common Market that I wish to speak this evening. Indeed, I doubt whether the problems of disunity or unity in Western Europe are today among the greatest problems confronting the world. Fifty years ago, perhaps twenty-five years ago, this was true--though it was not from Western Europe but Europe as a whole, including Russia, that the danger of international conflict sprang. Since 1945, however, no one has seriously worried about the danger of war between Britain, France, Germany and Italy.
There are, of course, differences of opinion within the NATO alliance, but so there are within the Communist bloc. I doubt whether these differences have much connection with the formation of the E. E. C. or would be resolved by Britain's entry.
No, the really grave problems today are not the problems of part of a continent, however much we who live there may be absorbed by them, but those of the whole world. Their solutions can only be world solutions. Remedies which might have been suitable in a steam age half a century ago are not likely to be adequate in the days of rockets and astronauts.
It is trite but true to say that the world has become exceedingly small.