The following excerpt is taken from a speech by Lord Hannay which was presented at the UACES conference, ‘The Impact of EU membership on the UK since 1973‘. The event was part of the UACES Evolving Europe project.
“When historians come to analyse and to write the story of Britain’s troubled and turbulent relationship with the other countries of Europe since the end of the Second World War- and they are already beginning to do so, distinguished amongst them the speaker to the first session of this seminar, Stephen Wall – they may not find it too difficult to trace the course of events, the increasing availability of archives should ensure that, but they may well be rather baffled to explain why things happened as they did. Why did Britain, the only country in Western Europe to emerge politically, if not economically, unscathed from the two great European civil wars with global dimensions, simply surrender, almost by default, the role it could have had in defining the shape and content of the new Europe which was rising from the ashes, and that despite the urging of its closest ally, the United States of America? Why too did the domestic differences over Europe hang like a ball and chain round the ankle of every British Prime Minister, once the decision was taken to join the European Community, preventing every one of them in different ways from playing the leading part that they wished to play, as one of them put it “at the heart of Europe”?”
Read the full transcript of Lord Hannay’s speech.