Letter: Dispelling the myths about our original membership of the European Community

PUBLISHED: 12:01 20 March 2018 | UPDATED: 12:06 20 March 2018

Protesters take part in a March for Europe rally against Brexit. Photograph: Matt Crossick/ EMPICS Entertainment.

Protesters take part in a March for Europe rally against Brexit. Photograph: Matt Crossick/ EMPICS Entertainment.

Matt Crossick/Empics Entertainment

Stephen Bayley wants to set the record straight on our original membership of the European Community - it was never just about trade, he argues.

Reading the Wilson government’s leaflet about the 1975 referendum, sent to every household in the country, is a very interesting exercise. For one thing, it dispels one of the big Brexit myths about our original membership of the European Community – that it was only ever about trade.

The leaflet clearly states:

“The aims of the Common Market are:

- to bring together the peoples of Europe

- to raise living standards and improve working conditions

- to promote growth and boost world trade

- to help the poorer regions of Europe and the rest of the world

- to help maintain peace and freedom”

The trajectory for later development seems fairly clear.

Secondly it has interesting things to say about the concept of sovereignty in the modern world:

“...in the modern world even Super Powers like America and Russia do not have complete freedom of action. Medium-sized nations like Britain are more and more subject to economic and political forces which we cannot control on our own.”

“...Through membership of the Market we are better able to advance and protect our national interests. This is the essence of sovereignty.”

“...Whether we are in the Market or not, Common Market policies are going to affect every family in the country. Inside the Market we can play a major part in deciding these policies. Outside, we are on our own.”

Different times, I know, but how I wish something as clear and unequivocal had been produced two years ago!

Stephen Bayley

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