Socialist Worker

Britain's rulers and their love-hate relationship with Europe

Published Tue 22 May 2012
Issue No. 2304

Winston Churchill clashed with France’s Charles de Gaulle

Winston Churchill clashed with France’s Charles de Gaulle


The European Union (EU) can trace its roots to industrial arrangements founded after the Second World War.

These agreements were sold to the European public as a way of bringing countries closer together to avoid any repeat of the horrors of war.

But bosses had different motivations. They wanted to gain access to new markets and boost Europe’s influence in a world dominated by the US and Russia.

Britain’s ruling class had a love-hate relationship with this project from the start. Winston Churchill was keen on a “United States of Europe”.

But much of the British establishment preferred to nestle under the wing of the US rather than trying to build a rival power.

The postwar French president Charles de Gaulle devoted much political energy keeping Britain out of the European club. He was suspicious that Britain would simply act as a conduit for US interests.

It was only after De Gaulle’s resignation that Britain was allowed to join what was then called the Common Market.

By then a consensus had emerged among Britain’s bosses that they could not do without access to the European market.

But the euro’s woes have revived the wing of British capital that has always been suspicious of Europe.

One expression of this is the anti-Europe sentiment common on the right of today’s Conservative Party.

Socialists have no truck with the nationalism of the Tory right. The EU is a club for bosses—but our alternative is international solidarity of all workers.


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Features
Tue 22 May 2012, 17:25 BST
Issue No. 2304
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