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Monday, 31 December, 2001, 12:40 GMT
The things people say
"Most housewives would rather pay a little more"
Political archaeologists seldom need to dig deep among the past utterances of politicians to uncover a multitude of passionately held views completely opposed to the ones they declare today.

Europe is no different. On both the pro- and anti- sides of the European debate, many of the leading political players have two distinct periods: before and after conversion.

Prime Minister Tony Blair

Tony Blair 1982
Tony Blair when he backed quitting the European Economic Community
Before: Fighting the 1982 Beaconsfield by-election, Tony Blair declared in an election leaflet: "Above all, the EEC takes away Britain's freedom to follow the economic polices we need."

During the same contest, in the local South Bucks Observer, he wrote: "I support withdrawal from the EEC (certainly unless the most fundamental changes are effected)."
April 1982

After: "I fought to persuade my party to become a party of Europe ... I have no doubt at all that the future of my country lies in being at the heart of Europe."
May 1995

Lady Thatcher

I believe that most housewives would rather pay a little more than risk a bare cupboard

Margaret Thatcher argues to stay in the EC, 1975
Before: As a newly elected opposition leader in 1975 and on the eve of the referendum on whether to stay in the European Community, Margaret Thatcher authored a piece for the Daily Telegraph insisting that housewives - a favourite common sense motif for the Tory leader - would happily pay more money to Brussels for the weekly shop.

Under the headline "I fear for the future if we were to withdraw", she wrote: "I believe that most housewives would rather pay a little more than risk a bare cupboard."

She urged a Yes vote. "It is not a time for complacency," she concluded. "It is not a time to opt out of voting, nor to opt out of Europe."
June 1975

After: The Lady was for turning after all, at least on her Euro-views. "In my lifetime all the problems have come from mainland Europe and all the solutions have come from the English-speaking nations across the world."
6 October 1999

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw

If we want to see our socialist polices implemented by the next Labour government, then a prerequisite for that and a central part of our manifesto must be a pledge to withdraw from Europe

Jack Straw calls on Labour to adopt a policy of quitting Europe, 1980
Before: "If we want to see our socialist polices implemented by the next Labour government, then a prerequisite for that and a central part of our manifesto must be a pledge to withdraw from Europe."
Speech to Labour's May 1980 special policy conference

After: "By working with our partners in the EU, we can do what we were elected to do; re-enfranchise our people; and show them that their political choices matter."
December 2001

John Major

Before: On becoming prime minister John Major chose the same place Tony Blair would later also identify as the UK's rightful place in Europe.

"My aims for Britain in the Community can be simply stated. I want us to be where we belong - at the very heart of Europe, working with our partners in building the future. That is a challenge we take up with enthusiasm."
March 1991

After: "I believe that the European Union must be a partnership of nation states, with Community competence where it is needed, but only where it is needed. This is more than a free trade area, but very much less than an embryo European state."
December 1996

Lord Lamont of Lerwick

Norman Lamont: The future Eurosceptic chancellor once spoke warmly of the EC
Before: Norman Lamont used his maiden speech in the Commons to reassure Eurosceptics unhappy that the evolving European Community could in the future be a threat to sovereignty.

"Where the means of implementation is left to individual national assemblies, it can be clearly seen that there is plenty of scope for the House of Commons to fulfil its traditional functions of scrutinising and amending legislation." July 1972

After: The former chancellor had a change of heart: "Europe [is] everything that the tabloids say it is: bureaucratic, inefficient, corrupt, undemocratic and unaccountable."
May 2001

Bill Cash

Before:As the Single European Act was making its way through Parliament in 1986, Bill Cash warmly supported it on its second reading: "We tend to exaggerate the dangers of majority voting."
Hansard 23 April 1986

After: In the 1990s he changed his mind, tabling an amendment to the same legislation he had previously backed. Now he said that nothing in the Single European Act should derogate from the sovereignty of the UK Parliament. In 1993, he tabled 240 amendments to the three-clause Maastricht Bill.

By now he wanted renegotiation of the treaties agreed by EU members, including Britain.

"Will somebody please explain how we can avoid being 'run by Europe' without renegotiating the treaties? The treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam, with Nice to come, create collectively European government, the damaging social chapter and the legal obstacles to a competitive economy."
September 2001

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