The General Says No: Britain's Exclusion from Europe

By Nora Beloff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
THE EXECUTION

THE death sentence was pronounced on the afternoon of 14 January 1963 in Paris, under the crystal chandeliers of the largest and most ornate reception room in the Élysée Palace, generally known as the Salle des Fêtes. The Jury, Judge, and Counsel for the Prosecution were all incarnate in the imposing, slightly potbellied figure of General Charles de Gaulle. The occasion was the General's eighth press conference, and the verdict was without appeal.

The execution was carried out fifteen days later, in the drab offices of the Belgian Foreign Ministry in Brussels. There, the conference for bringing Britain into the Common Market, the most controversial negotiation in British post-war history, which had lasted sixteen months and produced documents by the ton, was formally declared dead.

It was a lugubrious occasion. The seventh floor of the Ministry, graciously lent by the Belgian Foreign Minister, M. Paul-Henri Spaak, to accommodate the committee rooms and offices for the negotiations with Britain, was plunged in gloom. All the suspense, intrigue, hope, and dread which these rooms had witnessed during the ups and downs of the negotiation now gave way to bitterness and anger.

As a result of de Gaulle's action, hundreds of negotiators, from senior cabinet ministers to junior officials, who had been run off their feet working eighteen and twenty hours a day, trying to get through the tangle of dossiers, attending interminable committees, and lobbying other delegations, suddenly found themselves with nothing to do. Politicians with their futures to think of, senior diplomats exasperated by the wasted effort, young enthusiasts furious at being deprived of the exhilarating task of building a new Europe -- all shared an appalled sense of anti-climax.

The technicality of the issues involved and the specially-invented

-11-

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The General Says No: Britain's Exclusion from Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Foreword 7
  • Chapter One - The Execution 11
  • Chapter Two - De Gaulle: Man and Monarch 19
  • Chapter Three - De Gaulle: Anglo-Saxon Attitudes 28
  • Chapter Four - New Notions of Europe 39
  • Chapter Five - Britain Says No to Europe 50
  • Chapter Six - Europe in Uniform 61
  • Chapter Seven - Europe Splits 70
  • Chapter Eight - Unsplendid Isolation 84
  • Chapter Nine - Macmillan Somersaults 95
  • Chapter Ten - Brussels: First Round 113
  • Chapter Eleven - Brussels: Last Round 132
  • Chapter Twelve - The Débâcle 148
  • Epilogue 172
  • European Institutions 181
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