I was shocked by T Earl’s letter last week about the EU and “our enemies” referring to “the French who let us down in 1940”
It was alas, that kind of outlook that had fuelled European wars for centuries.
Most of us who lived through one or both of the world wars and witnessed a whole continent brought utterly to its knees had no doubt that some way had to be found to ensure friendship, tolerance co-operation and peaceful competition.
The central organisation of the EU just like the British government, leaves a lot to be desired, with all manner of serious problems and disagreements.
How might it be otherwise ? That’s what human life is like but is a damned sight better than the nationalistic xenophobia and consequent wars of former days.
Whether you agree with T Earl’s opinion that ‘We need to leave the EU’, or not, it is important to get the facts right.
I assume that the first error is a misprint: 1945 meaning 1975. The UK had joined the EEC in 1973, with a mandate: it had been in the Conservative Party’s 1970 election manifesto.
The 1975 referendum was under the Labour government of Harold Wilson; Margaret Thatcher, recently elected as Conservative leader, campaigned for a ‘Yes’ vote as did most of her party.
In fact until the late 1980s she argued against the use of referendums as being contrary to the British constitutional principal of parliamentary sovereignty.
The forerunner of the EEC was the European Coal and Steel Community of 1951 and the key countries in its formation, and that of the EEC, were France and West Germany, the aim being to make a European war less likely by combining the two main industries needed for armaments.
The Benelux countries (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) were also initial members (with Italy), but of lesser importance.
Mr. Earl’s strong opinions would carry more weight if they were based on a factual knowledge and understanding of the development and the current nature of the European Union and the UK’s role as a member.
Editor’s note: Mr Earl had written 1975 in his letter to the Mercury, but unfortunately this was changed by us to 1945. We apologise to Mr Earl and readers for our error.