Why I voted no in 1975 to the EEC

The memory of some who now??want out of the EU??is very hazy.

Some of them voted Yes to remaining in the EEC?? when we had a referendum in 1975.It was a great pity they did not read the Treaty of Rome then . which is the origin of all the transfers of power which have happened since.

In 1975 I had just got my first job in the City after graduating. My employer asked me to write a memorandum on the consequences??for the economy and shares of a Yes and a No vote in the referendum. As I read the Treaty of Rome and the terms of British entry I realised that we would have to pay a lot in by way of contribution. We would liberalise trade in goods, giving German and French manufacturers a great advantage as they were better than many of our producers then were. The French and Germans would not liberalise services, where we had the advantage. My forecasts set out how we would run two large?? deficits – a deficit on revenue account as we paid many of the bills for the Community as a whole, and a bigger deficit on trade account as we bought their BMWs and bottles of wine, but they would not buy our insurance policies or our?? banking services. So it proved, and the numbers remained horrendous until Margaret Thatcher insisted in a?? renegotiation on getting some of our large contribution back. Incidentally, my employer did not like my analysis showing what a bad deal the government had negotiated, and added to my memo that share prices would fall if people voted "No", as that was the prevailing mood at the time, created by the government that argued the UK would not have a good economic future outside the EEC, for no obvious reason.

Some try to suggest today that it is all the Conservatives fault that the EU has so much power. In practise it is the fault of?? the Labour government who advised people to vote Yes in 1975 without spelling out just how much power was being transferred, and all those who were taken in by their misleading statements. All three main parties officially proposed joining and staying in. There were always more Eurosceptics on the Conservative side, although there were some good sceptics in the Labour party as well. Liberal Democrats have been consistently federalist.

Subsequently this Labour government has given more power away than any other, through surrendering so many vetoes at Nice and Amsterdam (??all opposed by the Conservatives)??, by wanting to join the Euro in principle, and signing up to the Constitution.

We need a vote on our relationship with the EU. It is so frustrating that this government will not give us the vote we need on either the Euro or the Constitution, so people could show that they are happy to trade with the continent, but do not wish to be governed by an ever more powerful and centralised EU.

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5 Comments

  1. Ken Adams
    Posted January 15, 2007 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    I agree we need a vote on our relationship with the EU and that it is so frustrating that this government will not give us the vote we need on either the Euro or the Constitution.

    The problem is that neither would a Conservative government, of course the Conservative party is against the Euro and the Constitution in principal; I assume the argument would be there is no need for a referendum on the either of these issues because we are not going to either, ratify the Constitution, or agree to joining the Euro.

    Unfortunately this argument only holds good for as long as that is Conservative policy, or as long as the Conservatives are in power. If the Conservative win the next election but loose the following one Labour will be able to pick up where they left off, because there would be no recent referendum to give them pause.

    So I would like to see a referendum on both of these issues and perhaps one on our membership of the EU so that the people at last have a chance to give their views on the matter, and that holds good whether it is government policy to ratify the Constitution join the Euro region or not.

  2. Ed
    Posted January 15, 2007 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    It also didn't help our negotiating position in the first place that Heath so desperately wanted in, allowing the French to dictate terms. The CAP is an obvious one.

    The Conservatives now should propose a re-negotiation of the Treaty, with the bargaining position that there will be a referendum on the resulting treaty.

    As it looks likely that the WTO will never result in global free trade I would like to see a free trade area which includes Europe and North America which could negotiate agreements with other countries/regions.

  3. Devil's Kitchen
    Posted January 15, 2007 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    So, John, the Conservatives will give us a referendum on staying in the European Union, will they?

    I examined the costs of the EU to Britain (huge), and weighed them against the costs of leaving (almost nothing), in a journalist-reviewed article at Wanabehuman. You may find it interesting.
    http://wanabehuman.blogspot.com/2006/07/comment-e

    DK

  4. John Coles
    Posted January 16, 2007 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Now you understand, Mr Redwood, why Tory voters turn to UKIP. Neither this Government nor Mr Cameron's "Conservative" party will promise "a vote on our relationship with the EU". I am sure that if 'Dave' promised any such vote, the polls would show a leap in support for the Tories.
    I really do not understand how a man of your intellect and principle can continue to live with a mindlessly europhile policy, born of deference toward and fear of Ken Clarke, Douglas Hurd et alia.

  5. Oliver Healey
    Posted January 16, 2007 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    The withdrawal from the European Union must be exercised at once the Common Market campaign from the No lobby was underfunded extremely and so there must be a referednum on the entire system to settle the matter once and for all.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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