Margaret Thatcher: Prime Minister Indomitable

By Juliet S. Thompson; Wayne C. Thompson | Go to book overview

6
Thatcher and the Unification of Europe
Sir William Nicoll

One could simply say "She was against it."1. But there is more to it than that. Mrs. Thatcher is of the generation which was in its teens during the Second World War. One does not have to be a jingoist to take pride in the memory of how Britain stood alone from June 1940 until a year later when Hitler turned his murderous intentions towards the Soviet Union. Thatcher's hero is Winston Churchill, our great war leader. It was, he said, the British lion that roared, but he gave it its tongue. In a television interview she gave in November 1991, Thatcher recalled, with justified pride, that it was the chimes of Big Ben that rang out across Europe in the dark days.

Her generation has not lost its recollection of the wartime alliance epitomized by the Churchill-Roosevelt bond, when the two countries fought under a single command, in which the United States inevitably took the lead. To her generation, and under the inspiration of Churchill, it seemed that the Anglo-American cooperation which had won the war was the natural instrument to secure the peace and promote progress in the postwar world. This was, in fact, one of the reasons which had made it impossible for British governments of whatever political persuasion to "join Europe," as the phrase has it, when their neighbours began their postwar reconstruction and reorganization.

Thatcher's predecessors in Labour administrations before 1979 were by no stretch of the imagination pro-Europeans, although they proclaimed that theirs was the party of Europe.2. Thatcher was the champion of change in

____________________
1.
Kenneth Harris, Thatcher ( London: Fontana Collins, 1989), 52. Nicholas Ridley, My Style of Government ( London: Hutchinson, 1991), 136.
2.
Notably in the letter which the General Secretary of the Labour Party sent to all constituency agents after the June 1975 referendum.

-115-

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