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Orders of the Day — European Communities Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th July 1972.

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Photo of Mr Julian Critchley Mr Julian Critchley , Aldershot 12:00 am, 13th July 1972

Among the welter of arguments in favour of entry into the Common Market, the one that has always been most attractive to me is that of the emerging reality of a united Europe. That is basing one's advocacy of entry not on economic arguments, but on international affairs and upon foreign policy.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Enoch Powell) is both eloquent and distinguished. I hope that he will excuse me for inquiring into his motives. I am a journalist, and all journalists—and indeed all politicians from time to time—inquire into the motives of my right hon. Friend. I believe him to be a nationalist, at times an old-fashioned nationalist, and I realise that he has an acute sense of history, but not even he would wish us to go to war to prevent the unity of Europe.

The question then is whether we shall pursue British interests more effectively within or without an emergent Europe. I assert that we are more likely to be able to do so within the context of an evolving European super-State; that is the political argument for entry. On the other hand, some of my hon. Friends who have for long advocated Britain's entry into Europe have failed to understand the limits that will be placed upon a united Europe when that organisation finally arrives. If I may make a robust assertion—and all speeches should have one robust assertion—it is that Europe can only aspire to the status of an economic super power. That being so, the alliance with the United States of America is fundamental to our security and therefore to our survival.

When the unity of Europe is a reality, Europe and therefore the United Kingdom will have three choices. First, we can come to terms with the Soviet Union, because the Soviet Union is stronger than we are. Secondly, we can aspire to independence. In doing that we must construct a nuclear system as wide, as efficient and as large as that of the Soviet Union or the United States. That is the second choice, nuclear European independence. The third choice is to stay as we are, relying broadly upon the good will and the self-interest of the United States.

Looking at those three choices. I am sure that few of us have advocated European unity in order to see Europe achieve the status of a super Finland. But, in examining the second choice open to Europe and therefore to ourselves, that of being fully independent in a nuclear sense, there are several reasons why this would be dangerous and undesirable.

First, we are unable to aspire to nuclear independence and to become a political super power because the Americans and the Russians have an advantage in the research and development of nuclear weapons so far in advance of ours that even if we wished to compete we could not overtake them. Secondly, we have to remember the immensely high cost of the construction of the Europe-wide nuclear deterrent at a time when all the peoples of Europe wish to reduce the amount of money spent upon defence. The third reason why I do not think the new Europe could aspire to fully independent status is the position of Germany. Germany is unable to take part in any European nuclear set-up and the smaller European powers within the Common Market are equally reluctant to embark upon a nuclear adventure.

We can only conclude that the object of the diplomacy of Europe must be to remind continually the United States of America of its own self-interest. We are thus obliged to keep our friendship with the United States in a state of good repair, When we examine the relationship between Europe and America as it is today we must beware of exaggeration. Mansfield is no more typical of American opinion than was de Gaulle typical of European opinion. On the other hand, some may assert that the logic of the Nixon doctrine of a return to the sturdy old-fashined American virtues of self-reliance when projected into international relations must lead to a new isolationism. But logic and politics rarely sleep together, and the alliance with Europe is self-evidently within the interests of the United States at a time when the interests of the Soviet Union and China and their spheres of influence have increased greatly.

If, then, European independence is out of the question, for we can never be a political super-Power, but an economic super-Power only, we must in the short term think of the value in the future of the existing English and French nuclear forces. These small nuclear forces are of some advantage and we must extract what advantage we can from them. First, they provide a necessary vanity through which European unity might emerge, and, secondly, they may also provide leverage upon American policy. We must avoid the position in which sometime in the future we in Europe provide the conventional forces of the alliance while the United States provides nuclear forces only. At the moment Europe provides 90 per cent. of the conventional forces of NATO, but we must keep an American military contribution to Europe, which is the US 7th Army, just as the Anglo-French nuclear forces are Europe's equivalent of the US 7th Army in Southern Germany.

In conclusion, I believe fervently in the unity of Europe, but we must understand the limits that will be placed upon it. We shall become a "Japan", not a "China". We can aspire only to the status of an economic super-Power. A new Europe must seek allies. In fact, we have a choice between two kinds of military subservience, either to the United States of America or to the Soviet Union. That is what it all boils down to in the long run. If we are faced with that choice, there is little doubt about which of the two we would prefer.