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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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Negotiating with Europe

Extracts from memoirs and diaries, chosen by Ian Irvine

The way we were

In 1961 the Prime Minister Harold Macmillan applied to join the Common Market. As Lord Privy Seal, Edward Heath held exhaustive talks in Brussels with its six member states. However, at a press conference at Rambouillet on 14th January 1963, French President Charles de Gaulle vetoed British membership (against the wishes of the other five). Heath recalled in his memoirs:

“We were all astonished. We had underestimated the extent to which de Gaulle would be prepared to pit his judgment and his policies against the rest. The obvious question was whether we should stop there and then. On balance, we decided to proceed and finish the negotiations… On the 16th however [French Prime Minister] Maurice Couve de Murville arrived in Brussels and became very agitated when he found discussions still progressing. He joined us all for drinks before our customary dinner and at one point turned to Josef Luns [Foreign Minister of the Netherlands] and exploded. “Oh, you Dutch, you have always been the lackeys of the English.” “Yes”, replied Luns, “Yes, I suppose you could say that, in the sense that you could talk of you French as always having been the raw material of their victories.’”

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In Prospect’s November issue: Joris Luyendijk and Stuart Ward try to uncover the way Britain is perceived by Europe and the rest of the world. Luyendijk—who lived in Britain for six years before recently moving back to his native Netherlands—explains that the Brexit vote has shown Europe that Britain needs time alone to find its identity again, while Ward—a native Australian—argues that its Britain’s imperial backstory that stops it from truly understanding what the world thinks of it. Elsewhere in the issue Jeffrey Lewis argues that US foreign policy has helped North Korea develop the nuclear bomb and we explore the effect that the Palestinian museum near Ramallah is having on the creation of a national identity. Also in this issue: Sameer Rahim profiles Armando Iannucci, Joseph Stiglitz on Britain’s tricky political situation.