Charles Moore: David Cameron Can Prove De Gaulle Was Right About Britain All Along





Charles Moore was editor of The Daily Telegraph from 1995 to 2003.
 
Since David Cameron has had to postpone his speech on Europe because of the terrible events in Algeria, I propose that he now keeps us waiting just a little longer. He should deliver it on January 29. Then it will be 50 years to the day since General de Gaulle, the president of France, vetoed British entry into the European Economic Community. It would be a fitting moment to mark a new course.
 
De Gaulle understood Britain better than most of our own leaders. A week earlier in 1963, he had signed the Élysée Treaty, enshrining friendship with France’s former deadly enemy, Germany. He knew that Britain would never engage in the sort of full-hearted partnership that he had just forged. Britain would not fully sacrifice her independence to create a new European political entity.
 
He was right. Our entry into Europe, and the referendum in 1975 about whether to stay in, would only be won, pro-European British leaders believed, if the loss of sovereignty could be played down. “Europe” was sold on its alleged practical advantages. But its founding fathers were intent on creating a new political order.
 
By temperament, Mr Cameron is one of those pragmatic British politicians who instinctively do not like confronting the kernel of any question. That is why most Eurosceptics do not trust him. But this makes it all the more significant that he now feels he must make this speech which fate keeps postponing. The main drafter is his chief of staff Ed Llewellyn, who is almost a bogeyman among Eurosceptics. Naturally, some suspect a trap. But is it not possible, if even the pragmatists and Europhile fellow-travellers recognise the problem, that we might be getting somewhere?..


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