Britain and Europe 1975 – 90

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·         Britain and Europe 1975 – 90

·         Mrs Thatcher’s personal style of dealing with other European leaders, termed ‘handbag diplomacy’ ruffled many European feathers.

·         She was increasingly reluctant to see further moves towards further political integration, most famously in her 1988 Bruges Speech.

·         Her first priority once gaining office was to secure a rebate for Britain’s contributions to the EEC. Britain was paying in far more than we were getting back.

·         By 1984 she had succeeded in getting most of ‘her money’ back, but this further distanced her from the European partners.

·         She did develop a good relationship with the French president Mitterrand and they agreed on the need for a Channel Tunnel (completed in 1994).

·         As her dominance over British politics strengthened, so did her scepticism over European interference in British affairs.

·         Thatcher was a nationalist and a patriot, and she had fundamental misgivings about giving money to the EEC, following their policies, tying Britain into closer union or following them economically.

·         She feared Europe becoming one federal state, and saw that as a recipe for Britain losing her status in the world.

·         She


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