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A Stranger in Europe: Britain and the EU from Thatcher to Blair
 
 

A Stranger in Europe: Britain and the EU from Thatcher to Blair [Kindle Edition]

Stephen Wall
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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"[A Stranger in Europe] relates in gory detail the European experience of three prime ministers - Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Mr. Blair."--The Economist


Product Description

For over twenty years Sir Stephen Wall was at the heart of Whitehall, working for a succession of British leaders as they shaped Britain's policy towards the European Union. He was there behind the scenes when Margaret Thatcher took on the rest of Europe to 'get her money back'. He was with John Major at Maastricht where the single European currency was born. He was with Tony Blair as a negotiator of the EU's Amsterdam, Nice and Constitutional Treaties. As a senior official in London, as Britain's ambassador to the European Union and as Tony Blair's senior official adviser on Europe he saw Prime Ministers and Foreign Secretaries define, defend and promote Britain's interests in Europe. Drawing on that experience, Stephen Wall traces a British journey from 1982 to the present as successive British governments have wrestled with their relationship with their fellow EU partners, with the European Commission and the European Parliament.

A Stranger in Europe goes behind the scenes as Margaret Thatcher and her successors have sought to reconcile Britain's national and European interests. Drawing on the official documents of the period, he gives a unique insight into how Britain's leaders have balanced objective assessment of Britain's wishes; political, press and public pressures; their own political instincts and the aims, interests and personalities of their fellow European leaders. We see Britain's Prime Ministers in intimate discussion with other EU leaders. We experience how Britain's top politicians motivated the best civil servants of their day and how those civil servants, in turn, sought to turn political instructions into negotiating successes. Above all, we see people at the top of their game trying to promote the British national interest and be good Europeans at the same time.

Stephen Wall analyses both Britain's successes and our failures and shows how, despite the differences of declared aim, and huge differences of personality, Britain's political leaders have in practice followed very similar paths. He concludes that Britain has been an awkward partner, often at odds with her partners: a stranger in Europe. But with dogged determination and seriousness of purpose Britain's leaders have nonetheless done much to shape and reform the modern Europe in which we live today.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2614 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (2 July 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001E6KB3U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #353,827 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thank goodness for some informed view on Europe 12 Nov 2008
Format:Hardcover
This is an excellent, informative and balanced account of Britain's relationship with the European Union. The author's perspective is clearly pro-European but it is a reasoned and well-argued position. Little Englanders and other eurosceptics will disapprove of much of the content but this is a long overdue riposte to the scaremongering that characterises their portrayal of the EU. I will recommend it to my year three university students.
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9 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Foreign Office mandarin's view 24 July 2008
Format:Hardcover
Stephen Wall worked in the Foreign Office's European Communities Department from 1983 to 1988, was Private Secretary to successive Foreign Secretaries from 1988 to 1993, Ambassador to Portugal 1993 to 1995, Ambassador to the EU from 1995 to 2000 and Blair's senior adviser on the EU from 2000 to 2004. As he writes, "It is undoubtedly true that the Foreign Office has, since the 1960s, been a pro-European department." Since retiring he has worked for `Britain in Europe'. So we know what to expect from this book.

He writes that John Major saw national sovereignty as a `commodity to be used for national advantage, not some untouchable heirloom to be hoarded at all costs' and that this `has been the policy pursued ever since'. This exposes the bipartisan policy of selling our sovereignty piece by piece.

He admits that Economic and Monetary Union, which he passionately supported, `was a step towards a federal Europe'. Even now, he claims that the EU's disastrous Exchange Rate Mechanism was good for us and he sneers at the `self-righteousness' of those who opposed our joining it.

He notes that Thatcher, Major and Blair all back the EU - truly part of the ruling class consensus. So also is the belief that Thatcher was `an undoubtedly great Prime Minister', as he puts it.

He laments that Britain is a `stranger in Europe' because of `the lack of deep-seated public support in Britain for the European project'. He believes that this is because governments, for some unknown reason, have done too little to explain to the British people the true nature of the European project. Obviously, we are too stupid to understand the sublime intentions of our dear leaders.
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Amazon.com: 1.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1.0 out of 5 stars Foreign Office treachery 24 July 2008
By William Podmore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Stephen Wall worked in the Foreign Office's European Communities Department from 1983 to 1988, was Private Secretary to successive Foreign Secretaries from 1988 to 1993, Ambassador to Portugal 1993 to 1995, Ambassador to the EU from 1995 to 2000 and Blair's senior adviser on the EU from 2000 to 2004. As he writes, "It is undoubtedly true that the Foreign Office has, since the 1960s, been a pro-European department." Since retiring he has worked for `Britain in Europe'. So we know what to expect from this book.

He writes that John Major saw national sovereignty as a `commodity to be used for national advantage, not some untouchable heirloom to be hoarded at all costs' and that this `has been the policy pursued ever since'. This exposes the bipartisan policy of selling our sovereignty piece by piece.

He admits that Economic and Monetary Union, which he passionately supported, `was a step towards a federal Europe'. Even now, he claims that the EU's disastrous Exchange Rate Mechanism was good for us and he sneers at the `self-righteousness' of those who opposed our joining it.

He notes that Thatcher, Major and Blair all back the EU - truly part of the ruling class consensus. So also is the belief that Thatcher was `an undoubtedly great Prime Minister', as he puts it.

He laments that Britain is a `stranger in Europe' because of `the lack of deep-seated public support in Britain for the European project'. He believes that this is because governments, for some unknown reason, have done too little to explain to the British people the true nature of the European project. Obviously, we are too stupid to understand the sublime intentions of our dear leaders.

He describes the Danish people's vote against the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 as the `failure' of their referendum. He clearly thinks that it would be folly to hold a referendum on the EU Constitution.

Who needs democracy when we have superb mandarins like Wall to think for us? Who needs sovereignty when the wonderful EU will do everything for us?
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