The General Says No: Britain's Exclusion from Europe

By Nora Beloff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
BRITAIN SAYS NO TO EUROPE

WHILE the British Conservatives were thus moving, on somewhat flimsy pretexts, to the top of the class for good Europeans, the British Labour Party, then in power, was establishing itself well at the bottom -- a place it was always to retain, though later shared with the Gaullists and de Gaulle.

But, as time was to show, there was no real difference of view between the two parties on Britain's relations with the continent. They seemed divided partly because Labour was in power, and partly because the only Briton capable of responding to the romantic aspect of the European idea also happened to be the Conservative leader. Who else could write: `I hope to see a Europe where men and women of every country will think as much of being European as of belonging to their native land and wherever they go in this wide domain, will truly feel: Here I am at home'?

These Churchillian periods went down better across the Channel than at home. For the British came out of the war in a xenophobic mood. Probably no British politician, at that time, could have made European partnership a politically alluring issue to his constituents.

Not that the Labour Government tried. From the moment it came into office every ounce of energy and endurance ( Bevin, Labour's Foreign Secretary, and Cripps, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, were both casualties of excessive strain) was spent on battling against the series of catastrophes which followed the brutal interruption of Lend Lease in 1945.

It is easy now to look back at a Europe crying out for British leadership and lament lost opportunities. Certainly, the internationally-minded continental socialists were bitterly disappointed to see the Labour Party proving the Ignazio Silone dictum that there is nothing socialists nationalize so well as socialism. The Labour Party's domestic programme indeed could scarcely have

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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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