It may seem odd now (although perhaps not to 48% of voters in the EU Referendum of 2016), but there was a time when the UK was desperate to join Europe, and, what’s more, the leader of the Conservative Party was at the forefront.
It is well documented (if not necessarily well known) that Winston Churchill called for a United States of Europe in a 1946 speech, as some on Twitter pointed out in response to this Daily Mail front page celebrating the UK Parliament vote on beginning the process to leave the EU.
In his 19 September Zurich speech, Churchill, who had been defeated in the 1945 General Election and was not the UK Prime Minister, argued that:
‘We must build a kind of United States of Europe… The structure of the United States of Europe, if well and truly built, will be such as to make the material strength of a single state less important…Small nations will count as much as large ones and gain their honour by their contribution to the common cause’.
Source: Churchill Society
By 1949, Churchill considered his dream of a United Europe to be close at hand. As it turned out, however, Churchill died (in 1955) many years before the UK joined the EEC (European Economic Community) on January 1st, 1973.