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on 12 November 2008
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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on 24 July 2008
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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