Professor A.J.P. Taylor on Europe: The Historian Who Predicted the
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
Let the Europeans mind their business. And we will mind ours. That is the
right course towards future greatness.