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What if …de Gaulle had said ‘oui’ to Britain?

Prospect’s counter-factual column

By Jonathan Fenby   December 2013

Charles de Gaulle’s press conferences were theatrical occasions. The government sat in a special enclosure beside the stage on which the leader of the Free French and founder of the Fifth Republic presided. Questions were carefully planted. The nation followed the leader’s pronouncements on television. On 14th January 1963, a month after talks at the Château de Rambouillet, during which Harold Macmillan had pressed Britain’s application to join the six-nation European Common Market, the General delivered his veto in front of 500 people at the Élysée Palace. Britain’s entry, he said,…

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