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

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

24 April 2008
For over twenty years, at the heart of Whitehall, Sir Stephen Wall worked for British leaders as they shaped Britain's European policy: Margaret Thatcher fighting to get 'her money back'; John Major at Maastricht where the single European currency was born; Tony Blair negotiating the Amsterdam, Nice and Constitutional Treaties. Stephen Wall draws on his experience to trace a journey from 1982 to the present as successive British governments have wrestled with their relationship with their EU partners.

A Stranger in Europe goes behind the scenes to tell the story of how Margaret Thatcher and her successors sought to reconcile Britain's national and European interests. Drawing on the documents of the period it gives a unique insight into how Britain's leaders weighed the British national interest and the interests and personalities of their European counterparts. This is the story of Prime Ministers and Foreign Secretaries in intimate discussion with other EU leaders, of how politicians instruct and motivate their top officials to implement their political will and how those officials seek to turn political instruction into negotiating success.

Stephen Wall analyses British success, and failure. He shows how, despite differences of declared aim and of personality, Britain's leaders have in practice followed very similar paths. Britain has been an awkward partner, often at odds with her fellow Europeans: a stranger in Europe. But with dogged determination and seriousness of purpose Britain's leaders have done much to shape and reform the modern Europe in which we live today.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 246 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (24 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199284555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199284559
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.2 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 399,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

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

About the Author

Stephen Wall spent his career in the British Diplomatic Service. For over twenty years he specialised in European policy, working for British Foreign Secretaries and Prime Ministers. He was for five years Britain's ambassador to the European Union and later EU adviser to Tony Blair. He helped negotiate all the EU treaties from the Single European Act to the EU Constitution. He continues to write and lecture about the European Union. Married with one son, Stephen Wall lives in London and Northumberland.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
In 1963, General de Gaulle issued his first veto of Britain's application to join the European Community (EC), the Common Market. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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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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