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Monday, 18 March, 2002, 14:08 GMT
Thatcher urges 'retreat' from EU
Lady Thatcher
Lady Thatcher's book may put pressure on her party
Former prime minister Baroness Thatcher has called on a future Tory government to fundamentally reassess its European strategy.

She stopped short of demanding withdrawal from the EU, but believes the notion is worthy of consideration.

She suggested the UK should join the North American Free Trade Agreement and said Britain should withdraw from the EU's common agricultural and fisheries policies.

Iain Duncan Smith
Duncan Smith: Playing down Europe debate?
Lady Thatcher's comments, in a book serialised in The Times newspaper, may embarrass Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith who has tried to play down the Europe debate.

In her book - Statecraft - Lady Thatcher describes the EU as "perhaps the greatest folly of the modern era".

She called Britain's membership as "a political error of historic magnitude".

"The preliminary step, I believe, should be for an incoming Conservative government to declare publicly that it seeks fundamental renegotiation of Britain's terms of EU membership."

Key objectives would be withdrawal from the common agricultural and fisheries policies and from the common foreign and defence policy.

'Cordial'

She insists that this need not result in British departure from the EU, but added: "It is frequently said to be unthinkable that Britain should leave the European Union.

"But the avoidance of thought about this is a poor substitute for judgment."

A Conservative spokesman said: "Naturally, relations between Iain and Lady Thatcher are close and cordial and she has done us the courtesy of sending an advance copy of the book.

"We will not comment directly on the book, but we will read it with interest."

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 ON THIS STORY
Former Conservative Chancellor Lord Lamont
"I do agree"
EU Commissioner Lord Brittan
"Her suggestions are unrealistic, undesirable and dangerous"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Thatcher's role
Was she one of the great orators?
See also:

13 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Tories press new US-Europe alliance
18 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Thatcher's Euro bombshell
28 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Hain denies superstate move
06 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Hewitt issues protectionism warning
18 Mar 02 | UK Politics
A hack's life at EU summits
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