These articles by the great historian Alan Taylor are extraordinary. They could have been written yesterday. They are beautifully written, fresh and up-to-date. Their publication in pamphlet form is well overdue.
A.J.P. Taylor understood the menace of the European Union, as it then was not, with total clarity. Even in the 1960s, he was in no doubt that the idea was a cunning device for the Germans to achieve domination of Europe. Or in his words "having wilfully abandoned the British Empire, we are to enter the German Empire instead."
These articles shatter the generally accepted notion that everyone thought Britain was signing up to nothing more than a free trade area when we joined the Common Market back in 1972. Writing in 1969, Taylor made clear that the true agenda was political union, and he reported that the Germans made no secret of what they were about. He exposed how the Common Market was imposed on sceptical British voters by a conspiracy of "top people" and right-minded opinion.
Taylor was perhaps the most brilliant historian of the twentieth century. Nobody has a more acute understanding of modern Europe, and above all the Germans, than he did. Needless to say his opinions were ignored. Only today is the political establishment (and even now only a small part of it) is slowly coming to realise how right he was. It is thirty years too late.
A.J.P. Taylor wrote for the Sunday Express from the late 1950s through to the 1970s. Strangely enough, he was not regarded within the paper as a star writer. As far as I can tell, he was foisted on the Sunday Express by the proprietor Lord Beaverbrook. The editor John Junor was glad to make use of Taylor's services. But he valued him chiefly for his speed and efficiency and treated the famous historian as a hack writer who could churn out copy at a moment's notice. In the words of a colleague "JJ did not have much time for Alan Taylor except as a useful functionary. He used him as a fallback when there was nothing doing politically." Taylor once told columnist Alan Watkins that he regarded Junor as a "blockhead" and the feeling was possibly mutual.
Taylor was contracted to write twenty articles a year at £100 each, generous wages by the standards of the day but rather less than grander occupants of the leader page like Enoch Powell, Reginald Maudling and Quentin Hogg. In practice he wrote considerable less. But he made sure he got paid for all twenty come what may. The great historian, who was careful with his money, would ring up each New Year regular as clockwork demanding payment for those unwritten pieces.
Today John Junor insists that Taylor "never put up an idea of his own". But he was more than willing to churn out copy on anything he was asked. Subjects included the opinion polls, the breathalyser, the BBC and speed limits on the roads (he was violently opposed, and claimed to have broken them all his life). And, of course, Europe. Luckily, Taylor's own thoughts on the subject coincided precisely with the views of the Sunday Express.
Taylor and the Express came from precisely opposite directions. He was left-wing, anti-establishment, pro-CND, a mischief-maker. We backed strong defence, the empire and the Tory Party. But somehow we saw eye to eye on the threat from Brussels. Hence these five tremendous pieces that the Bruges Group has so intelligently chosen to republish. As for the Express, we were not just first with the story, we have been completely consistent ever since. We never ceased to warn about the menace of European federalism. We are still doing so today.
Macmillan Has Not Found The Answer Yet
The Sunday Express, London, July 15 1962
The change of Ministers is a political sensation. The cleanest sweep for many years. It is easy to see what it means in personal terms. Mr Selwyn Lloyd is shaken off as an embarrassment. Some Ministers go into retirement. Perhaps willingly. Others go up, the prospect of success glittering before them.
Mr Macmillan obviously believes that the Conservative Government have lost popularity because they are a tired team. He is trying to polish them up, to give them a younger, brighter appearance. In my opinion he has made the wrong diagnosis.
It is not individual Ministers who have made the Government unpopular. It is not even Conservative policy. It is lack of policy. Failure to define what the Government stand for. Doubt, not opposition, is bringing the Government down. Every by-election shows the same extraordinary pattern. Great loss of votes for the Conservatives. No gains by Labour, and often losses almost as great. The Liberals make great gains, but not because they stand for a clear, defined policy on any issue. Voting Liberal is a way of voting against the Government without voting for Labour.
There is an even more important voter, though no less noticed. The voter who does not vote at all. It is these voters who will determine the result of a General Election, if they can be brought to the polling booth.
Why do so many voters abstain? Is it merely laziness, indifference to what happens at by-elections? Surely it is something much deeper? A profound doubt as to where the Government stand and what they intend to do. It is those who have voted Conservative all their lives who are now losing faith in the Conservative Government. They are not finding faith in any other party. Sometimes they vote Liberal as a gesture of doubt and disgust. More often they do not vote. These absent voters are the writing on the wall.
What has shattered the Conservative confidence which gave the Government victory in three successive General Elections? What new facts have intervened to shake men's minds? Though the record of the Government has not to my mind, been marvellous, it has not become markedly worse recently. Except on one point, and this is the decisive one.
The new fact in politics has been the Common Market, and the proposal that this country should enter it. Still more important is the way the question has been presented to the people. Or rather, it has not been presented at all. If the Government had announced their firm conversion to the Common Market there would, perhaps, have been fierce argument. But men would have known what they were arguing about. They would have voted one way or the other. Instead the Government have avoided debate. They have refused to explain what was involved. They have concealed the state of negotiations with the Common Market countries.
Evasion and equivocation are the wasting disease which now threatens to kill the Conservative Government. Yet these are an essential part of the situation. The Government do not themselves know what the Common Market involves. They do not want to know. They do not ask the vital questions. They are angry when others do so.
The Common Market is, for the Government, an end in itself, which will automatically provide a solution for all ills. Conservative economic policy has been a failure. Instead of prosperity and expansion, there has been stagnation and the pay pause. It would be fantasy to suppose that Mr. Maudling will be somehow inspired to find the way out which baffled Mr. Selwyn Lloyd.
The Common Market is to provide the answer. Once we are inside, Dr. Adenauer and President de Gaulle will reveal, in a kindly way, the secret of expansion. This is the height of absurdity as well as of evasion. For, just as the Government nerve themselves to take the plunge, expansion is ending in the Common Market countries.
The move into the Common Market has been, from first to last, a confession by British Ministers that they did not know what to do. Originally it was a scheme for smuggling through devaluation of the pound, and hence reduction of wages, without anyone noticing. Now it is not even that. Entry into the Common Market is not a policy. It is a substitute for a policy. Its consequences, its implications, are never explained.
This is what voters are in revolt against. Liberal voters, doubting voters, abstaining voters. All share the same outlook. They cannot believe that the Common market is right, yet are bewildered where else to turn. The public opinion polls show this clearly. More are against the Common Market than are for it. But still more "don't know". This is the real vote of "No Confidence" in the Government.
What else can a puzzled voter do except doubt and turn his back? He receives no guidance and much confusion from the Government. He receives equal equivocation from the Labour Party. Here too the same refusal to decide. The same refusal to state clearly the issues involved for and against. The failure of the Labour leadership to come out clearly against the Common Market has been the greatest lost opportunity of our time. It is this failure more than anything else which keeps the Government of Mr. Macmillan in office.
This is far more than a question of parties or personalities. Who cares, except the individuals concerned, whether Mr. Lloyd or Mr. Maudling is Chancellor of the Exchequer? Who even cares, except Professor Trevor-Roper, whether Mr. Macmillan or Mr. Gaitskell is Prime Minister? Millions care about their future and the future of the British people. This is what is being decided at this very moment behind the scenes. And the decision is concealed from us.
The sands of negotiation are running out. Great Britain, it seems, is on the point of entering the Common Market. This will be the end of British independence, the end of the British Commonwealth. For what? For why? No answer comes. Our future is being mortgaged in darkness. Without our consent. Without our knowledge. Our great days are ending. And all we are offered is a Maudling for a Lloyd.
These personal changes are a triviality. Doubt will continue to grow. The Conservative Government and Mr. Macmillan will continue to lose support. Those who ask for the confidence of the people must offer confidence in return. The Common Market is a vast vote of "No Confidence" in the British Commonwealth. It is not surprising, therefore, that the British people have lost confidence in their Government. Now Mr. Macmillan has confessed no confidence in his closest and most loyal adherent. This will not restore the standing of the Government.
Only a resolute policy, honest and free from doubts, will end the doubts which are dominating the country. The present changes do not end these doubts.
Why don't these "Top People" think for themselves?
The Sunday Express, London, October 31 1962
Habits of mind have their fashions just like clothes. And they are much more important. You can get by without a rolled umbrella. You can get by without carrying the right newspaper. And still be a Top Person. But you must have Top thoughts. Perhaps "thoughts" is too kind a word. You must talk Top jargon, and have Top tastes. Here is the hot tip for all the Joe Lamptons of this world. Top people are for the Common Market.
I cannot think of any division in my lifetime which has been so absolute. Most Top people were for appeasement. Some were not, and very Top people at that. Plenty of Bottom people were for appeasement also. There were Top people for Suez. And Top people against it. In fact Suez was a row at the Top, and not much else. With the Common Market the line-up is absolute. There is no exception. If you know a man's outlook and background you can place him in regard to the Common Market without asking.
The division has little to do with parties even though it is now being argued along party lines. Conservatives with an independent record are against the Common Market. Respectable Labour men are for it.
Look what happened to Mr. Gaitskell. He was supposed to be a really safe man. Splendid record. Winchester and Oxford. Never mixed up with the wild Left. He committed the unforgivable sin. He thought for himself instead of following the intellectual fashion. His speech at the Labour conference was the most formidable case yet made against the Common Market. It rested on cool, solid argument. What happened? The arguments were ignored. Mr. Gaitskell was alleged to have succumbed to sentiment. It was said that he had abandoned the wise Top guidance of such people as Mr. Anthony Crosland and would henceforward have to consort with Mr. Michael Foot. For Top people that is a fate worse than death.
This has now become a fashionable smear. Being against the Common Market means association with the Labour Left. Well, there is nothing wrong with the Labour Left. I am with it myself on nearly everything except its enthusiasm for the United Nations. But on the question of the Common Market the Labour Left is only a tiny element. Sir Roy Harrod is far from the Left. He was a close associate of Lord Cherwell, and it would be more difficult to be much more on the Right than that. But he thinks for himself. He is against the Common Market. Mr. Douglas Jay has always been firmly on Labour's Right. He ought to be safely among Top people as a Fellow of All Souls. He too is cursed with the fatal handicap that he thinks for himself. He is against the Common Market.
I dare say there are people who think for themselves and yet favour the Common Market. There are arguments on both sides. The unanimity of Top people for the Common Market does not rest on argument. It rests on sentiment, the very accusation made against Mr. Gaitskell.
There is sentiment for Europe. There is lack of sentiment for the Commonwealth. Or even sentiment against it. Commonwealth has become a dirty word. Great Britain and the Dominions were the only countries which went through two World wars from start to finish. There are few more unselfish acts in history than the way in which the Dominions rallied to our side. They could have stayed out or come in late, as America did, to their great comfort and profit. They did not hesitate. In the First world war Australia alone lost more men than the United States. In the Second world war, Canada, quite apart from men, contributed far more in financial sacrifice than the Americans.
All now forgotten, brushed aside. To Top people the inhabitants of the Commonwealth are still "colonials" who do not behave in a respectable, conventional way.
Europe is a different matter. Europe has become the prevailing fashion. Everywhere one hears the phrases: "We are Europeans," "We must get into Europe." Of course there are many attractive things in Europe. Some European countries have wonderful scenery. Many have beautiful old buildings. The drink is often good, and the cooking adventurous. Praise which I would not extend to Belgian beer or German food.
This is what Top people mean by culture. They seem to think of the Common Market as a perpetual summer holiday, or as something to provide clever talk in the evenings. It is not. It is a serious political association. Here the position is different. Politically we are not Europeans and never have been. We did not share the common European experience of being conquered by Napoleon. We did not share the common experience of being conquered by Hitler. Maybe the experience would have done us good. We did not have it.
No European country has our past record of constitutional freedom. It is now almost three hundred years since we gave up killing each other for political reasons. What European country can say the same? The Dominions share our political traditions. Canada, for instance, handled a real Soviet spy danger without any of the McCarthyism shown in the United States. Where are the political traditions which we share with Europe? In France public order and the stability of politics depend on the life of a single man. We have had nothing like this since Oliver Cromwell.
Or consider the traditions which we shall henceforth have to share with Germany. Only in the last few days a prominent police chief has been accused of organising the murder of over a hundred thousand Russians during the war. He has already confessed that much of the accusation is true. How many of our chief constables have anything in common with this man?
I recently read a scholarly German work about the infamous camp at Belsen, where 50,000 innocent people died from hunger and disease during the last days of the war. The men actually running the camp were hanged. The men in a distant office at Berlin, who were really responsible for it, were not charged. One of them is now a prosperous businessman near Hamburg. Not surprisingly, he did not reply to questions from the scholar writing the book.
We are told that we must forget the past. But the police chief and the business men are not the past. They are the present. The Top people can keep them. I am not on their side. Fashion is all right for dress and furniture and wine. Our political future is too serious a matter for fashion. Let us have hard argument over the common market.
If sentiment comes in, it should be the sentiment which rests on reality and has been tested by long experience. In my opinion, the Commonwealth will pass this test, long after the fashion for Europe has been forgotten.
Will Germany be the Next to Explode?
The Sunday Express, London, June 2 1968
I make today a grave confession of error. I am a professional historian and have for many years run down my own profession. I have refused to believe that study of the past helps us to understand the future. I have always said that history was simply an intellectual pleasure, to be studied for its own sake.
In particular I did not believe that Europe's history was relevant to Europe's present. I thought that the peoples of Europe, forgetting their feuds and traditions, had all settled down to a common pursuit of the Affluent Society. Now it seems that I was totally wrong. Ever since the end of the Second World War people have wanted peace and prosperity. I thought this would last for ever. Not at all. The post-war era is over.
A great stir is sweeping Europe, and all old causes of inspiration are being revived. Liberty and equality are no longer empty words. Democracy is once again being championed and once again being challenged. There has been nothing like this since the great revolutionary days of 1848. National character is also reasserting itself. Every nation again running true to form. Nothing could illustrate this more dramatically than the recent events in France.
These make little sense in the context of the Affluent Society. But they are full of meaning for anyone who knows how the French behaved during the Paris Commune of 1871 or the Popular Front of 1936. I once heard a French historian say: "When English people are discontented they form a committee. When French people are discontented they make a revolution." I thought this rather exaggerated, but he turns out to have been right.
President de Gaulle has also run true to form. Many observers expected him to abdicate. But that is not in his nature. He has never run away and is unlikely to start now. Instead he has done again what he did in 1940 and again in 1945. He has put himself at the service of France. By dissolving the National Assembly he has appealed to democracy. He remains virtually the only dictator of modern times who, in the last resort, uses his power to defend democratic principles. France will undoubtedly go through great turmoil. In the end the will of the people will prevail. Those who had faith in France even during the dark days of the war can have faith now. The French remain wild and ebullient, and a fundamentally democratic people.
But France is not the only nation in Europe, and the storm does not stop at France's frontiers. If the French are reasserting their national character, is it not likely that the Germans will do so also? There is a more alarming prospect. We have been told times without number, since the end of the war, that the Germans had learnt better. They were no longer militaristic. They were no longer aggressive. They were safe against the extravagances of a new Hitler. Who can be confident about this now? The Social Democrats are repeating the mistakes of their predecessors. Instead of offering a Radical alternative, they are already in a Great Coalition just as they were in the Weimar republic.
They are not there to promote any enlightened policies. They are there simply for the sake of the jobs that government offers. The German Government has just introduced an Emergency Law, which is very close to Hitler's. The Social Democrats declare that they will resist the emergency powers, if they are abused. How much opposition did the Social Democrats offer last time?
If the Germans want an alternative to the present coalition, they can only turn to the extremists. These are already beginning to prosper. The National Democrats are raising again the nationalistic grievances which were Hitler's stock in trade. The German Government has never renounced the Munich settlement which was imposed on Czechoslovakia in 1938. It has never recognised the present frontiers of Poland. Indeed, official maps still show Germany as it was in 1937 or even 1939. German schoolchildren are taught to mourn for the lost lands. They are taught that the Second World War was no more Germany's fault than any other country's.
The forms of democracy exist. The democratic spirit drags far behind. Where the French want Liberty, the Germans want Order. And what spells Order for the Germans spells Danger for everyone else. The signs of danger are only just apparent in Germany. But when things move in Germany they move fast. In 1929 the Nazis had only a dozen deputies in the Reichstag. Four years later Hitler was supreme dictator. In 1933 Germany the weakest State in Europe. There were 6 million unemployed. There were no foreign reserves. Disarmament was almost complete. Only seven years later Germany dominated almost the entire Continent of Europe up to the borders of Soviet Russia.
Of course, things never happen again quite in the same way. It is possible that the upheaval in Germany may this time take a more democratic form. It is even possible that the Germans may show some friendship and respect for their neighbours. It would be a great mistake to count on this. British Governments of the nineteen-thirties buried their heads in the sand and said: "It can never happen again." It happened all the same.
Surely we have been warned by past experiences? We can regard the troubles of others with sympathy and patience. We hold out the hand of friendship and peace to every nation in Europe. But the affairs of Europe are not our concern. Every time we have involved ourselves in these affairs, it has brought us great burdens and great loss. We have prospered when we have kept clear of European politics.
Our one duty is to mind our own business. We should set an example of ordered freedom and sensible economics. These things are well within the genius of the British people, even if our Government finds them a bit difficult. For this, too, is one of the lessons of history: the British people are always a good deal wiser and more sensible than those who govern them.
Never more so than now. All our rulers, Tory and Labour, wanted to rush into Europe. They said that Europe was progressive and we were backward. They wished to become entangled in the Common Market. Those who opposed the Common Market can now say triumphantly:
" We told you so." What a mess we should now be in if we had to carry the troubles of France and Germany. History is now coming alive again all over Europe. We too should be true to our tradition. That tradition is one of national independence and splendid isolation.
Why not tell us where you stand Mr. Heath?
The Sunday Express, London, May 25 1969
Strange are the whirligigs of fortune. General de Gaulle, champion of French greatness and independence, is an exile, almost a refugee, in Ireland. Franz-Josef Strauss, an obscure Bavarian, strides into London like a conqueror. His triumphs have surpassed those of Hitler. It is right that he should be given a friendly welcome. But who could have foretold 25 years ago that a German Minister would ever be received with such grovelling humility and obedience.
Yes so it is. We, once a great Imperial people and victors in two World Wars, are now the suitors of Germany, rattling the begging-bowl in search of German marks. And what are the terms on which Herr Strauss will extend his benevolence towards us? He does not strive to conceal them. The Common Market is once more upon us. This time in a more brutal than ever. There is no more pretence that the Common Market is merely a convenient economic arrangement.
The political implications are now clear. Herr Strauss spelled them out. "Federalism" was the word which he pronounced. In other words, having wilfully abandoned the British Empire, we are now to enter the German Empire instead. It is nothing less than Hitler's New Order which Herr Strauss offers, or rather seeks to impose upon us. This raises a sharp and immediate question for the political leaders of this country. How do they stand on the Common Market? What is the response which they intend to give to Herr Franz-Josef Strauss?
It is perhaps foolish to address these questions to Mr. Harold Wilson. For we have learnt by now that he rarely commits himself in advance and, even when he does, is prepared to change course without warning. Mr. Wilson has repeatedly said that the British Government will renew its application to join the Common Market. He has not formally repudiated the conditions Labour once laid down which would in fact make our entering the Common Market impossible.
But this is not the time for Mr. Wilson to say so. The economic policy of the British Government compels Mr. Wilson and his wrongheaded associates to be hopelessly, irrevocably dependent on German good will. So long as they stick to fixed exchange rates and pursue a policy of deflation in this country, they must go a-begging to the Germans, and lip-service is small extra price to pay. But there is now another candidate for the highest office. The General Election is approaching. In the present state of Labour confusion it might come soon.
The polls predict victory for the Tories. The polls are not always right, and much may change before the General Election. But on present form Mr. Edward Heath is likely to be the next Prime Minister of Great Britain. He has told us, in general terms, what his Government would do in many fields. On one topic he has recently remained silent. Now Herr Strauss has forced the question upon him.
Would Mr. Heath agree to make Great Britain part of a West European Federation? For this, and no less, is what Herr Strauss now proposes. Great Britain would lose her independence. She would become one among seven members, likely to be out-voted by countries which are economically dependent upon Germany. Her Armed Forces would cease to exist. They would be amalgamated with the German Forces into a Common Market army, not under British control.
Great Britain became great because of her freedom from European entanglements. She could turn to the outer world and build up a community of free associated nations. Politicians of all parties have combined to depreciate the Commonwealth until it has lost most of its significance. They even depreciate our long-standing associations with the United States. They seek to turn Britain into a purely European country. We shall be ruled from the Continent as we have never been since the days when the Dukes of Normandy were also Kings of England.
This is not disturbing only for our national pride. It will have devastating effects on our economy. Entry into the Common Market means without doubt a crushing increase in the cost of living. According to the best judges, the Common Market would put up our food bills by a thousand million pounds a year. Who would benefit? Apparently only the bankers of the City of London whose obligations would be underwritten by the German mark.
But it is by no means certain that even such benefits would long continue. The contrast between a stable, prosperous Common Market and a rickety, crisis-ridden Great Britain is not likely to last much longer. The countries of the Common Market other than Germany are already in difficulties. France is already drifting without authority. She has only to choose between the confusions of the Fourth Republic and the revolutionary turmoils of 1968. She will be lucky if General de Gaulle is available to save her for the third time. In Italy the governmental coalition is approaching dissolution. Here, too, the material gains of the Common Market have been exhausted. Both France and Italy are now German satellites, much as they were during the second World War.
There remains only the German "economic miracle." Like other miracles, it cannot be repeated indefinitely. Germany has prospered as the result of renewing all her industrial equipment after the second World War. This equipment is now approaching obsolescence. Soon Great Britain will have the most advanced equipment in Europe. It was dangerous enough to think of joining the Common Market when its members were perhaps more advanced and prosperous than we were. It is surely crazy to join just when its members are slipping behind.
In a Federal Europe we should become a remote country on the fringe, more neglected than Wales and Scotland complain of being neglected within Great Britain. The Common market is a great and imminent danger, far more important for our future than, say charges for teeth and spectacles. The issue should be presented clearly and honestly to the British people.
Why does Mr. Heath remain silent? He has a duty to make his position on the Common Market clear and unequivocal. After Herr Strauss's pronouncements here, Mr. Heath should speak this weekend. We were cheated at the last Election when Mr. Wilson implied that he was against the Common Market and then favoured it when he got in. Is it Mr. Heath's intention to cheat us at the next Election? The issue cannot be postponed or evaded. We are told by Herr Strauss that we must enter a Federal Europe. Is Mr. Heath for a Federal Europe? Or is he not?
The Path to Ruin
The Sunday Express, London, July 11 1971
"The prime objective of any British Government must be to safeguard the security and prosperity of the United Kingdom and its peoples."
Such is the opening sentence of the Government's White Paper on the Common Market. They are wise words and it would be well to apply them. All the discussion so far has centred on the economic terms of entry, most of it setting up Aunt Sallies that are then ingeniously knocked down. But the political implications are what matter, however much the British Government tries to conceal this. European statesmen make no bones about it. Professor Hallstein, leading German proponent of the Common Market, said on television that political union was the essential aim.
This is what we should be discussing. Do we want to merge into Europe? Shall we be more secure as well as more prosperous if we do? Of course it is more admirable that the countries of western Europe are on good terms. For that matter, we are already on good terms with them. We regard all European countries with friendship. It is carrying friendship rather far to propose that our friends should eat us.
Obscured in the phrases of the White Paper is an assumption that only Super Powers count in the world. Therefore we must merge into Europe in order to create a World Power rivalling Soviet Russia and the United States.
The White Paper tells us that China is also on the way to becoming a Super Power. Considering the size of her population and territory, that is not surprising. But the coming of yet another Super Power is announced. Japan, we are told "is well on the way to Super Power status." That single sentence destroys the entire political case for the Common Market.
Japan does not possess vast territories and enormous natural resources. She has no Commonwealth behind her and none of the capital reserves we have accumulated. She is not associated in any Common Market. She tried that once when she went to war in order to establish The Far Eastern Co-Prosperity Sphere. The attempt brought her to utter disaster and economic ruin. Now only 26 years after catastrophic defeat, the little island of Japan, with a population denser than ours, is well on the way to becoming a Super Power. Her rate of economic growth is the highest in the world, far higher, for instance, than any country in the Common Market.
This great advance has not been achieved at the expense of the Japanese people. Their wages are high. Their social services are considerable. Their standard of life is enviable. The Japanese way of success is no secret. It is simple: Hard Work. And not only hard work in the factories. Hard work also by the leaders of industry and commerce. Inspired leadership has raised Japan high. We could do all the Japanese have done if we were freed from the handicap of leaders without faith.
Caution has been our watchword instead of enterprise. The City of London has bowed down before the stability of sterling when it ought to have been thinking about the expansion of industry. The Japanese are prosperous. Are they also secure? The answer must be: they are as secure as any country can be in the modern world. The two real Super Powers maintain a balance of nuclear terror. Neither Soviet Russia nor the United States dares start a world war. And in my opinion neither of them remotely wishes to do so.
Will merging into Europe make us more secure against either Soviet Russia or the United States? Not a whit. On the contrary, it may drag us into European conflicts that need not affect us at all. Running through the White paper is the idea that merging into Europe will increase our security. I find this extraordinary sentence: "Our security has been bound up with that of our European neighbours for over 1,000 years."
This sentence flies in the face of all our history. We have been most secure when we kept out of Europe. Meddling with European affairs has brought us nothing but toil and suffering. The greatest age of British economic achievement was in the nineteenth century. Then we were truly the workshop of the world. The sole principle of our foreign policy was Splendid Isolation. This was the basis for our prosperity.
Of course we do not want to see new wars in Europe. But if we enter into European alliances or European associations we make war more likely. Already German statesmen are saying that the new European Super Power will be able to challenge Soviet Russia. Is this what British people desire?
During the twentieth-century we were twice involved in great European wars. We were told that this was necessary for our security. On each occasion we came out less secure than when we went in. We were told we could not allow one country to dominate the Continent. And what happened? In 1940 one country did dominate the Continent. Yet we survived thanks solely to our own strength. And we should have been far stronger in the summer of 1940 if we had not previously sent an expeditionary force to France and lost all its equipment at Dunkirk.
The Battle of Britain was the most glorious event in our recent history. We won it without European allies. We won it because we had detached ourselves from Europe. It was the victory of Splendid Isolation. Long ago in the days of sailing ships, there was perhaps a case for saying that we could not allow Antwerp to pass into enemy hands. Even in the days of short-range aircraft and rockets there was a case for saying that we were concerned for the independence of Belgium and Northern France. Now nuclear weapons, if they are ever used, will come from thousands of miles away. The security of western Europe has no special significance for us. In weapons, as in other things, the world has become one.
Our security is bound up with world security. We shall not increase that security by merging into Europe. We shall instead be following old paths which have led us to ruin in the past. The craze to become a Super Power is merely the latest form in which that foul idol, The Balance of Power, is worshipped. We should not bow down before that Moloch. We are not a Super Power. We never were in our finest days. We are a small island and a small people of great achievements.
We have in the Commonwealth our own kith and kin. Association with them has always brought us peace and security. Yet we are deliberately turning away from our own people. We are being asked to plunge with our eyes open into new European entanglements such as have always injured us in the past. The lesson of history is clear: outside Europe we can be more secure and more prosperous than inside.
Let the Europeans mind their business. And we will mind ours. That is the right course towards future greatness.