The General Says No: Britain's Exclusion from Europe

By Nora Beloff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWELVE
THE DÉBÂCLE

IT has been argued that General de Gaulle never intended to let Britain into Europe, and that the entire Common Market negotiation was from the beginning nothing more than a gigantic hoax.

This is the view of that stalwart advocate of British links with Europe, Lord Boothby, who believes that by the time the Government applied it was already too late. When it was all over, and having already abandoned the Conservative Party in disgust, he gave his account of the Government's European record:

There was [ Britain's] fatal refusal to join the Coal and Steel Community; the equally fatal refusal to join E.E.C.; the implacable hostility of the late Ernest Bevin and the noble Earl, Lord Avon, to the Council of Europe and everything it stood for; and finally the refusal of Her Majesty's Government to take part in the negotiations which resulted in the Treaty of Rome, or to take the Common Market seriously until it had become a reality, and a most prosperous reality at that. By the time de Gaulle came to power, we had missed the boat.

Yet in the summer of 1962 things looked different. In Brussels, as we have seen, the French mission was seeking to secure the best possible terms for France in the event of Britain's entry; it was not trying to keep Britain out. After the Brussels summer meeting, Couve de Murville himself paid a visit to Oslo and told the Norwegian Government that he was assuming that Britain's entry was only a matter of time. In Paris, the new long-term plans for French agriculture, being drawn up by the Commissariat for Planning, were based on the assumption of an enlarged Common Market.

This was the informed French view. On Bastille Day, in July, the former French Prime Minister, Michel Debré, happened to be visiting London, and was walking to St James's Street with the new

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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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