The Conservative Party secured a huge parliamentary majority in the general election, capturing 364 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons. It was one of the biggest shifts in British political allegiances for decades and it marked a personal triumph for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is now the most successful Tory leader since Margaret Thatcher. The win means Britain will almost certainly leave the EU in January 2020 as, just like the Prime Minister said, “no one can now refute” his “stonking mandate” to deliver Brexit.
The era of uncertainty ended as the general election result broke the Brexit deadlock.
As Britain prepares to finally leave the EU at the end of next month, a chilling warning about the bloc by former prime minister Harold Macmillan has resurfaced.
In a 2019 talk for Yale University, Vernon Bogdanor, one of Britain’s most famed constitutional experts claimed Mr Macmillan, who at the time was Housing Minister, chillingly predicted that Europe was going to transform into a fully-fledged federal state even before Britain joined the bloc.
Mr Bogdanor said: “In March 1953, Macmillan asked the Cabinet: ‘Are we really sure that we want to see a sixth power federal Europe with a common army, a common iron and steel industry, ending in a common currency and monetary policy?
“‘If such a federal state comes into being, will it be in the long run be in our interests whether as an island or as an imperial power?’
Harold Macmillan issued a chilling warning about the future of the EU
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
“‘Will not Germany ultimately control this state?’
“And may have we not created the very situation in Europe to prevent which in every century since the Elizabethan age we have fought long and bitter wars?’”
Mr Bogdanor noted that for all these reasons, when he became prime minister, Mr Macmillan tried to “dilute the European Community into something intergovernmental”.
He said: “Macmillan proposed in place of it a Free Trade Area, a plan of free trade in industrial goods between the 17 powers of western Europe.
“Agriculture would not be included, so there would not be any Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) and no common external tariff.
“So the FTA would not affect British imports of cheap food from the Commonwealth and with no political implications such as ‘ever closer union’.”
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Famed constitutional historian Vernon Bogdanor
Former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan
However, Mr Bogdanor argued that it was for these very reasons that the FTA did not appeal to the Six in the European Community, especially to the French.
He said: “Free trade in manufacturing but not in agriculture would mean British goods would enter the industrial markets of the continent tariff free, while the produce of continental farmers would not enter the British market tariff free.
“The opposition of the FTA was led by France, even before de Gaulle came to power in 1959.
“The French hostility became even stronger in 1959 and de Gaulle put the end of negotiations.
“That was a very clear sign that Britain was losing the leadership of Europe.”
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In a 2018 Daily Telegraph report, author and journalist Christopher Booker went even further, claiming that the reason why the French President blocked negotiations and kept the UK out of the bloc was because he knew the UK would oppose and scrap the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) if it was a member.
The CAP was and still is crucial to France’s economic security and stability.
All EU countries contribute to the EU budget, and in return benefit from EU spending in their countries.
As the bulk of the EU budget is spent on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which supports farmers’ incomes, countries with a large agricultural sector, like France, get more back than they put in.
However, Mr Booker added that in the Seventies, former Prime Minister Edward Heath was so keen to get Britain into Europe, that “he accepted the CAP without demur”.
Britain officially joined the bloc under Mr Heath in January 1973.