It is the 1. January 1973: After a decade of hard negotiations, the United Kingdom, the European economic community (EEC) – a precursor of the European Union. The accession will be celebrated with day long festivities. But even then, the candidate divides the British Public.
The EEC is growing at the time, from six to nine member States – along with Britain, Denmark and Ireland accede to the Confederation of States. The then conservative British Prime Minister Edward Heath describes the entry of his country into the EEC as “very moving”. In the context of a “Fanfare for Europe”Celebrations of the country take place over about ten days, around 300 sports and cultural events.
football players of the three new member States to compete against a Team of players from the other six members of the EEC. Italy lends the UK a Michelangelo for an exhibition, the Netherlands a Rembrandt. Only the Louvre spoils the fun, because the Museum refuses that the “Mona Lisa” in Paris leaves.
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The British press is dedicated to the historical event, their title pages. “A Chapter of one thousand years of history comes to an end,” writes about the “Sunday Times”. The “Sunday Telegraph” said earlier, the accession would prove to be just as decisive for the British history such as the battles of Hastings and Waterloo.
“slowly and deeply divided”
On 31. December 1972, the fiercest opponents of the EEC-accession organize a last Protest: Around 500 demonstrators will take part in one of the bagpipes under the old torchlight procession in front of the Parliament in London. At the official celebrations of Queen II Elizabeth and Prince Philip on 3. January 1973, at a gala evening in London’s Covent Garden of about 200 demonstrators with stink bombs welcomed.
The decision on membership was made in 1972 by a parliamentary vote. A Referendum, there was, unlike in the two other new member States, Denmark and Ireland, in the UK before. The population is “hesitant and the polls show that – deeply divided,” wrote the AFP at the time.
67 percent of the vote in 1974 for the whereabouts in the EU
an AFP Reporter Basile Tesselin to hear in a London Pub: “We have our own government, our elected Parliament,” says a worker. “We don’t want to be by who knows whom in Brussels. Everything we have is better than what you have.”
“I keep in front of you, I see you come,” says a Scottish taxi driver. “You sucked us in and as soon as we sit in the trap, you will to us by our real friends to divide, the Americans, Canadians, Australians. And you’ll all be Communists and pulls us down with you.”
The opposition Labour party quickly makes it clear that it wants to renegotiate the accession agreement. Party leader Harold Wilson accuses the government of their responsibilities to Brussels assigned.
in 1974, comes Labour returned to Power and made the representation for renegotiations. In the following year, Labour organizes a Referendum on the fate of Britain in the EEC. The ‘ Yes ‘ camp win by 67 percent.
ivi / AFP