Britains Joins the EEC
The 1st of January 1973 AD
With all the grace that surely only a French president could muster, de Gaulle whose country had twice been saved from oblivion by Britain denied that country entry to the then Common Market in 1963 and 1967, supposedly on the grounds that Britain still looked to the Commonwealth and to the USA, and lacked the political will to remain a long-term member of the grouping.
But with the passage of The European Communities Act 1972 on October 16 1972, having already signed an accession treaty (along with Ireland, Denmark and Norway) on January 22 of the same year, Britain paved the way for eventual entry on January 1 1973.
President de Gaulle may have had something in his view of British stickability as regards Europe. To this day there are significant interests in the country that would have us exit: not just the like of UKIP, but probably a major part of the Conservative Party; much of the British press; and quite often the bloke in the pub who could be Prime Minister and England Manager if he wasn’t too busy with his DIY.
On January 1 1973 the British flag was raised at the headquarters of the organisation in Brussels; George Thomson, one of our first commissioners and a noted gourmet who surely made the best of what Brussels had to offer, walked in a midnight procession to celebrate the moment of entry.
Edward Heath was always proud of having engineered our membership – without a referendum that had been hinted at if not promised during the 1970 general election campaign - when others including Churchill had failed. It was his legacy; perhaps the sum total of what he achieved of long term value in a period of British politics even more short-termist than today.
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