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Ever closer union?

Introduction
A new Europe
1945-1957
Britain shut out
1958-1969
Joining the
Community
1970-1979
The Thatcher era
1979-1990
Backing away
from Union
1990-1997
Blair and euroland
1997-2002




Heath takes the UK into Europe


News report of the the referendum result


Margaret Thatcher campaigns on the Yes side

Joining the Community

Heath took the UK into the EEC
With de Gaulle out of power and Tory Europhile Prime Minister Edward Heath in Number 10, Britain went full steam ahead for entry, again holding negotiations to sign up to the EEC.

For Heath, who had played a big role in the failed talks under Macmillan, it was the realisation of a personal vision.

By the beginning of 1973 the UK had finally been accepted into Europe - well over 20 years since the project of integration had first begun, and 12 years after it had first applied to join.

By this time the institutions of Europe were well established - and unsurprisingly, they had not been designed with the UK's economy in mind. Painful concessions had to be made by the British, particularly over agriculture and trade with the Commonwealth.

Something to get us going again Edward Heath on joining Europe

Despite being members, however, the British people and their politicians were by no means keen to march down what many on the continent saw as a path leading towards a federal Europe.

Labour and the Conservatives both found themselves heavily divided on the issue, as some in each party feared power was moving irrevocably from Westminster and finding a new home in Europe.

Key Dates
1970UK's third application
1972UK signs treaty
1973UK joins EEC
1975UK's referendum
1977R Jenkins tops EC
1978ERM established

When Labour returned to office in 1974 it did so with the commitment to hold a referendum on whether to continue the UK's membership.

Leading figures of the 'No' camp included the Tory Enoch Powell and Labour politicians Tony Benn and Barbara Castle.

Meanwhile, Labour's Roy Jenkins and Shirley Williams, joined Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher in the 'Yes' camp.

EEC referendum result: "Yes" 17,300,000, "No" 8,400,000

In the event the British public said: "Yes" to Europe, by about 2-1.

But Britain never found itself in the vanguard of Europe and as the 70s ended the UK showed no inclination to begin preparations for a currency union, despite gathering momentum on the continent

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