Euroscepticism has always coloured Britain's relationship with the EU. But Ireland saw membership as a way to take a new role on the world stage—one they won't relinquish lightlyby Patrick Thompson / December 7, 2017 / Leave a comment
Has Britain ever understood the EU? It’s a question which is both fascinating and frustrating.
There are a range of reasons for Britain’s lukewarm engagement with the European project: British exceptionalism, a fixation on the relationship with the United States, poor timing, domestic realpolitiks and arrogance have all played a part. Over forty years ago, when the campaign to join was at its height, pro-European politicians from Ted Heath to Dennis Healey found themselves talking up the economic argument and ignoring, for the most part, the political one.
Prior to Brexit, the most serious public discussion about the EU since joining concerned the economics of the single currency, not wider issues of European integration on ideological grounds.
While the UK’s future is unclear, what is certain is that our tendency to view membership as little more than an economic convenience has blinded us to how our closest European neighbour relates to the EU.
The Republic of Ireland joined the EEC, as the EU was then, at the same time as Britain in 1973. Over 80 per cent of Irish voters were in favour.