Britain Europe Politics

The Great Deception – Part 11 – The Awkward Partner…and Mrs Thatcher

Continuing our review series in which we attempt to make some sense of Brexit:

Chapter 10 of The Great Deception is one of those chapters that revealed to me so much fascinating information that at the end I just wrote ‘Wow’…but before we get on to that here are some of the best articles on Brexit over the Christmas New Year Period.

My favourite is this brilliant article from Theodore Dalyrmpyle – which neatly sums up where our democracy is heading: A Cambridge professor arguing that six year olds should vote because they are more ‘progressive’!

At the head of the article were the words: “Allow six-year-olds to vote? No, but it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Children tend to be more progressive and idealistic than their parents.”

This illustrates rather neatly the proto-totalitarian tendency of much of the Western intelligentsia. For this intelligentsia, the purpose of elections is not to limit the power of politicians, provide the electorate with a choice and correct policies that seem to it to have gone too far in one direction or ­another, but to produce a pre­determined result, the predeter­mina­tion being that of an elite of the correct-thinking. That is why a proposal that makes traditional gerrymandering look like an act of probity can be taken so solemnly. The end justifies the means.

This one unusually for Huff Post argues that a no-deal Brexit is nothing to fear.  Less unusually here is Jacob Rees-Mogg arguing that a no-deal Brexit would benefit the UK economy.

Here is Daniel Hannan asking the EU Parliament why it is necessary to punish Italy for overstepping EU budget guidelines, but yet let France off with a higher deficit because of ‘Macron’s’ special circumstances.

Incidentally here is Hannan, a moderate Brexiteer, showing why May’s deal is such a disaster…




The Brendan O’Neill Podcast with Tony Abbot is also well worth listening to.

But let’s return to the Great Deception.  Last time  we saw how the British electorate were deceived into voting for an EU which they thought was just a trading bloc and how some of our politicans knowingly lied to us.  This week we move on to chapter 10 The Awkward Partner – which looks at how when France stood up for its own interests it was considered ‘European’ but when the UK did so it was considered ‘anti-European’ and awkward.

“The UK really did have a lousy deal. The Agricultural Policy, which we had always known worked against our interests, was out of control…it was also clear that in a few year’s time the UK budgetary contribution would rise so much that we are quite likely to find ourselves the nation making the largest contribution” David Owen, Foreign Secretary 1978-1979


When the UK population voted to stay in the EEC, the UK itself was in economic crisis. Most thought that the Common Market was just a free trade area and therefore remote to most daily interests.


From the beginning it was clear that the British were seen as awkward partners. We had different political and economic cultures.   One key area was when the EEC set out to adopt a common energy policy.   Britain had just discovered vast reserves of oil in the North Sea and so wanted to keep the price high. The French wanted it to be kept law. The French wanted the EU to negotiate at the OPEC oil producers on behalf of the UK – Britain refused.  Britain was cast as the awkward partner – although I suspect that if the French had discovered oil they would have done their own thing.


Meanwhile fishing continued to cause tension. Britain’s deep water fishermen were now barred from within the 200 miles limits set by Norway and Iceland. The so-called ‘Cod Wars’ in 1975 saw British fishing boats forcibly expelled from Icelandic waters by armed gunboats.   Britain then decided to set up its own 200 mile limit. The British fishermen wanted the first 100 miles to be restricted to British vessels only. But under the terms that Heath had signed in his betrayal of the UK fishermen this was not permitted and instead the Commission decided what the quotas would be (and called it a ‘conservation’ policy).   Britain had largely lost its deep sea fishing industry and control of its waters which contained 80% of the fish in Western European waters.

The EU Parliament

In the late 1970’s the European parliament was set up. Because of Labour rebellion against the idea, the then Prime Minister, Callaghan, was forced to tell his EU partners that Britain could not hold elections for a European parliament in 1978.  Eventually they were held in 1979.

Meanwhile the Foreign Secretary, David Owen, realised that the terms under which Britain had signed up to the EEC were unfair. But he found that it was hard to adopt a tough negotiating stance because his senior civil servants would not face up to the reality and were not prepared to fight for British interests. Again note the similarity with today!

Another bridge crossed –

pig-sow-piglet-nursing-69397A lot of this was personal to me. I was a teenager who lived in a fishing constituency being decimated by the EU. My father was a farm worker on a pig farm. The pig industry was suffering and so the British Government had given pig-meat subsidies. The Commission had appealed to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which ruled in its favour in May 1977. This was the first time a European Court decision had overruled a democratically elected British Government. Tony Benn saw the importance of this. He wrote in his diaries:

“Then I asked what would be the political effect of this on pig producers in the UK. John Silkin said it would mean in effect the destruction of our industry, the mass slaughtering of pigs and the abandonment of our processing plants in favour of the Danes… I wanted to be told explicitly – as I was – that I was a member of the first British government in history to be informed that it was behaving illegally by a court whose ruling you could not alter by changing the law in the House of Commons. It was a turning point” 

Meanwhile the EEC continued to seek European Union (rather than just the trading bloc we had been promised we were entering).   The Belgian Prime Minister argued for a ‘People’s Europe’ which, like the People’s vote, was nothing of the sort.   It meant a centralised single currency and economy.

Roy Jenkins and the ERM

The next step in this was to come from another British politician, Roy Jenkins, who as a committed EUphile had become President of the Commission. He helped set up the European Monetary System (EMS) which contained the Exchange Rate Mechanism (the ERM). Britain refused to join the EMS. Even without the UK it was difficult to get agreement until a secret deal was struck between Giscard (France) and Schmidt (Germany).

The situation was becoming much more difficult for Britain and for the Labour government. We were on track to become the largest contributor finding ourselves subsidising French farmers whilst the French blocked increases to regional development funds.

Thatcher Arrives.

thatcher_becomes_prime_ministerOn 4 May 1979 Margaret Thatcher walked into 10 Downing Street where she was to remain for 11 years. Initially she appeared to be a very pro-Europe, looking forward to a single market becoming “Thatcherism in Europe”, and a bastion of individual freedoms rather than collective bureaucracy. This was not the vision of the EU bureaucrats. Conflict soon followed – a conflict which has led up to todays situation. She was nothing if not forthright.

“I must be absolutely clear about this. Britain cannot accept the present situation on the budget. It is demonstrably unjust. It is politically indefensible; I cannot play Sister Bountiful to the Community whereas my own electorate are being asked to forego improvements in the fields of health, education, welfare and the rest.” (Margaret Thatcher. 18th Oct 1979 – the Winston Churchill Memorial Lecture in Luxembourg).

At a meeting of the European Council in Dublin she noted: “some, for example the Dutch Prime Minister, Mr Andreas Van Agt, were reasonable, but most were not. I had the strong feeling that they had decided to test whether I was able and willing to stand up to them. It was quite shameless: they were determined to keep as much of our money as they could.” (note the similarity with today – the EU wants to keep the money – and the differences – we don’t have a Prime Minister who is willing to stand up to them!).

Mrs Thatcher was discovering that the EU idea of ‘give and take’ meant “you give, we take”. In the years that followed battles with President Mitterand were to be the dominating factor.   In 1983, France and Italy blocked payment of Britain’s refund. Thatcher decided she would stop British payments to the community, if she had the backing of her MPs but, she wrote, “there was a hard core of Euro enthusiast… who instinctively supported the Community in any dispute with Britain.” (again note how little things have changed).   Thatcher backed down. however she did succeed in June 1984.

Thatcher’s ‘Victory’.

Getting the council to agree to a 66% rebate for the UK. But this was a mixed blessing. Brussels decided to fund this to something called the “Own Resources Decision” which was something so complex that according to the commission’s own reckoning, it produced “the somewhat surprising result that the United Kingdom appears to participate in the financing of its own rebate”.

The end result of this was that the UK government refuse to apply for funds that were due to it for CAP, funds which other member states took advantage of. This meant that British farmers we are less able to match their EU competitors. This disparity in subsidy levels would result in 15 years time in one of the greatest crises ever faced by British agriculture.

Ten Predictions for 2019 – Confusion, China and Christ.

A no. 1 song from 1979 seems appropriate for today!













  1. It is perhaps significant that hardly an iota of the actual historical background to the UK’s membership has ever been broadcast via the British media. ‘The Great Deception’ meticulously documents a horrifying sequence of deceptions, engineered to suit Germany and France, at the UK’s expense – and it is sad to think of everything we lost, in the form of both EFTA and the growing potential of the Commonwealth.

    It takes a peculiarly blinkered form of ideology to dismiss the implications of Booker and North’s detailed, and forensically-referenced historical analysis.

  2. Perhaps you’re like me and dislike the ‘Brexiteer’ label, particularly when subsequent, media phrases are bathed in negatives. We could be called Dissolutionists, that would be ok because we want all Europeans to be free of this super-state monster and to be nation states again. Then we could decide if we want a trading arrangement, or whatever – but not the Euro, a super-state idea from politicians that is an economic disaster to the southern nations and a burden on the Germans.

    1. I thought “Brexiteer” was meant to be a compliment, related to “buccaneer”, which is often a term of admiration for a bold, freebooting sort of chap.
      Of course, it only works for those who think pirates were, or are, romantic heroes – or have a fancy for Johnny Depp (!)

  3. ” I cannot play Sister Bountiful to the Community whereas my own electorate are being asked to forego improvements in the fields of health, education, welfare and the rest.”
    We are, however, delighted to play Sister Bountiful to Big Finance (“too big to fail”), the great international corporations (now ungratefully naffing off at the whiff of change), some very rich foreign rulers, and such useful entities as the freight company which hasn’t any ships, but has got Useful Connections and will never be expected to deliver what it’s been given all that money to provide.
    And either way, either in-group, either side, we continue to forego that list of public goods, and get told Suffering is Good for our Character as we step over those sleeping on our streets and die waiting for an appointment.
    Fact is, whoever wins in any given round of the game, we have simply lost any concept of government as service or accountable to anyone – apart from Her Majesty who does still understand – and gone back to the days when government had nothing to do with governing the people (let alone delivering justice!) but was merely various groups of families, and their hangers-on, vying for rule as the source of unlimited power, plunder and patronage – oh, and sweetest of all, the chance to dish their enemies!
    The first end of that is “strongmen”, and the last is usually war – when every leader “puts his country first” they can’t all be in front.
    I’d say they should study the Bible’s histories but every man would only assume he was David, and no woman would think herself Athaliah *wry smile*

    1. Yes – Big Finance, the great international corporations, most foreign rulers…etc are all very pro -EU….I wonder why. Goldman Sachs love the EU for example.

      1. Oh, they’re all equally hedged to profit from Brexit – you don’t get where they are by not having a bet on, and under the table connections with, both sides.
        One of the great triumphs of Brexit has been the number of very rich, connected and yes, “great international” sponsors who have somehow convinced everybody they’re jolly good mates who’d buy you a pint in the pub, while planning a bonfire of laws that will make Henry VIII look like a beginner. There are no, repeat, NO disinterested parties or Jolly Good Mates in this dispute.
        The only question we’re answering with all this is which particular slavemaster we prefer. And we well may be opting, unwittingly, for a third one busy waiting for both to fail.
        Time for another Litany…

      2. And yet Karen I know of noone who thinks that any of the super rich are just jolly good mates who would buy you a drink in the pub – and neither do you. Don’t believe the propaganda. The super rich will benefit whatever – they certainly benefit from the current system. What is really quite bizarre are the number of people who believe, without any evidence, that the rich mans club (known as the EU) is somehow for the poor – and that all these people in Kensington, Edinburgh and Cambridge all voted for the EU because they love the poor! I agree with your latest statement…its just such a shame that we are passing up this chance to change the system (re the quotes at the end of the article)…

    1. Yes – I am a Prospect subscriber and not only had I read that article but it has been referred to me several times. I think some of their criticism is interesting and valid…but they certainly don’t debunk the whole case and their callousness is scary – destroying small producers is a good thing?!

      1. That is not how I read the article, but perhaps your followers would like to read the paragraph you refer to and make up their own minds:

        In the end, then, Booker and North are thrust back on the classic Eurosceptic dogma – not xenophobic nationalism, but the complaint that the EU is an “undemocratic” scheme of centralised regulation. Yet their own story undermines this loose libertarianism. In nearly all their regulatory horror stories the villains are not Brussels bureaucrats – too few in number to exercise much direct control over national policies anyway – but well-meaning British officials exercising their own discretion. And why not? A democracy in which governments placate angry fishermen and abandon regulation designed to prevent the collapse of fish stocks, as recently occurred in the US and Canada, is no democracy at all. In the end, the public interest in economic growth and regulatory protection should trump special interests. The fate of small producers at the hands of the EU may be a tragedy, as Booker and North argue. But like any real tragedy, it is not just inevitable, but desirable.

      2. I don’t have any followers! But I agree of course that people should read the whole article – and indeed the book.

        Booker and North come to a different conclusion from the authors – even though they have much of the same information. This paragraph just does not makes sense. Anyone who seriously argues that the CFP is just about conserving fishstocks is living in a fantasy world. The evidence of the whole fishing debacle is in the Great Deception. I would strongly recommend reading it. I presume you have done so? The callous and cold defence of big business and the destruction of small producers being declared as desirable is the antithesis of what I believe in. We should look after the weak and powerless – not just create the world for the corporates and the wealthy. Thats why I’m against the EU!

      3. By ‘followers’ I meant those that follow your blog! Yes, I’ve read the book. And yes, I appreciate why you are against the EU. The book seems to me to have some value in its revisiting some of the history and its use of primary historical material, but i read it as more polemic than history.

      4. Is there any other book you would recommend on the history of the EU? I have read several and The Great Deception is by far the most detailed and provides the most information. Why do you read it as polemic? You are aware that at least one of the authors if not both is in favour of the UK remaining in the EU? A strange polemic!

      5. I said it was more polemic than history because it has the single unifying idea of a big conspiracy, and a clearly identified villain. My reading of history is that it is always more complicated, multifactorial than this kind of tale. The book makes a rattling good read in the genre of balloon- bursting journalism that Booker enjoys and it’s pretension to serious historical writing is bolstered with lots of footnotes, which brings me back to my original comment about the distortion of Professor Andrew Moravcsik’s work.

      6. But it doesn’t have ‘one villain’ – it has many. The book describes a very complicated situation and it is unfair of you to portray it as some kind of conspiracy theory. I would just suggest that people read it for themselves.

      7. Quite right, there is more than one ‘villain’, but the finger is consistently pointed at one central villain, Monnet, who is characterised as a puppeteer, pulling the strings of the other main actors and a master of concealment and subterfuge. It would be convenient to see one central figure as largely responsible for major historical events, but I suspect true history is always more complex than that. A modern day example might inflate Steve Bannon’s role in the growth of worldwide populism. While he similarly seeks to be the power behind many thrones, I believe there is a lot more going on than some plan in Bannon’s head alone.

        But by all means, folks might wish to read it for themselves. We all bring a degree of partisanship to our reading, no matter how objective we try to be.

      8. Yes Monnet is key – but so is De Gaulle, Heath etc. This is a book about personalities but also about systems, ideologies, history, politics etc. In other words it is like life, complex. I have asked people this many times – especially those who just repeat the same meme (it has been throughly discredited) and who have neither read it nor the substantive criticisms of it. What other books on EU history would you recommend? And what facts within the Great Deception are actually false? This request is usually met with silence…

      9. I don’t think I said any of it was false! Facts can be assembled to bolster a particular perspective.

      10. Agreed….still waiting to get the alternatives…I spent ages looking at many different histories etc of the EU – studied it at Uni etc. In the 1970’s I was strongly against….in the 1980’s I went the other way and even left the Labour party to join the SDP partly over this issue (I note in passing that the man who persuaded me David Owen has now become against the EU)…in the next couple of decades as I became more aware of the corruption in the EU and saw the way it treated the poor I became increasingly concerned. When it came to the time of the 2016 referendum I look extensively at the arguments pro and against and realised that Tony Benn was in fact right. The dream of the EU is fantastic – the reality is much more brutal.

  4. David, prior to the Brexit vote, I knew that I was woefully underprepared to engage intelligently, and I asked an academic colleague which texts would reliably help me understand the historical background. He recommended ‘Modern Europe, 1789-Present’ (Briggs and Clavin), ‘The Transformation of Western Europe’ (William Wallace) and ‘The Community of Europe’ (Derek Urwin) as well as ‘The Great Deception’. I fully expected the latter to be treated by a certain constituency as unreliable and biased polemic. What I found was that on the essential underlying historical facts, there was really no contradiction at all. Thanks for your ongoing treatment of this topic, because it is helpful for Christians to consider the ways in which our nation has been subject to ideological manipulation. Huge damage has been done to our culture and political and legal institutions which I suspect may never be repaired, but at least analysing the influences and forces may help us to prepare better for the future.

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