‘struck on reading it how succinctly it dealt with a huge subject, and dealing with it comprehensively without, seemingly, omitting anything relevant’ – Order! Order! Magazine
From his earliest childhood, Europe has been close to Giles Radice’s heart. His paternal great-great grandfather, an Italian nationalist, was fortunate enough to come to Britain in 1821 as a political refugee. Ten years after the end of Second World War, at the age of 18, he set off to cycle across Europe. At the same time the Foreign Ministers of the Six were preparing for the momentous Messina Conference which saw the establishment of the European Common Market. Meeting his continental contemporaries, Radice discussed the prospects of building a new and better Europe in which war might be ended forever and in which prosperity could be assured for all. It was clear to him that Europe should unite and that Britain could not stay on the margins.
Elected to Parliament in 1973, Radice voted `yes’ in the 1975 referendum and hoped that Britain’s vote to remain in the EC heralded the beginning of a deeper relationship with Europe. In Parliament, Europe became his preoccupation as he worked tirelessly to keep the Labour Party on a pro European footing. In this pamphlet he looks at the years since 1975, asking why the British remained reluctant Europeans, always sceptical about the benefits of greater union. Why had the underlying forces of the EU not pulled Britain closer to the continent? How much should we blame the negative influence of the media that worked wholeheartedly against Britain’s deeper commitment to the EU? Through all of this, Radice maintains that the most important failure was that of political class. From Thatcher’s Euroscepticism to Tony Blair’s soundbites and the half-hearted campaign from both main parties in the referendum of 2016, he lays the blame at the door of the political expediency practised by our governing class.
GILES RADICE is a Labour member of the House of Lords. He served as Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee under Tony Blair between 1997 and 2001.