On 5 June 1975, voters went to the polls in Britain's first national referendum to decide whether the UK should remain in the European Community. As in 2016, the campaign shattered old political allegiances and triggered a far-reaching debate on Britain's place in the world. The campaign to stay in stretched from the Conservative Party - under its new leader, Margaret Thatcher - to the Labour government, the farming unions and the Confederation of British Industry. Those fighting to 'Get Britain Out' ranged from Enoch Powell and Tony Benn to Scottish and Welsh nationalists. Footballers, actors and celebrities joined the campaign trail, as did clergymen, students, women's groups and paramilitaries. In a panoramic survey of 1970s Britain, this volume offers the first modern history of the referendum, asking why voters said 'Yes to Europe' and why the result did not, as some hoped, bring the European debate in Britain to a close.
Robert Saunders is a Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London. He is the author of Democracy and the Vote in British Politics, 1848 867 (2011) and co-editor (with Ben Jackson) of Making Thatcher's Britain (Cambridge, 2012). He appeared in the BBC TV series The Victorian Slum (2016) and has given interviews and commentary on the BBC, CNN and a wide range of media outlets.
Introduction: 'a fanfare for Europe'; Part I. Europe or Bust: 1. 'Opportunities and illusions': the road to 1975; 2. 'A device of dictators and demagogues': renegotiation to Referendum; 3. 'Support your local continent!' Britain in Europe; 4. 'Better out than in': the National Referendum Campaign; Part II. Themes and Issues: 5. 'The boardroom must lead!' Employers, unions and the economy; 6. 'Women and children first'; 7. 'Come to pray on Referendum day'; 8. 'No use talking about sovereignty'; 9. 'The new British Empire'; 10. 'Think of it as the common super-market'; Part III. The Unravelling of Britain?: 11. 'Ulster says yes!'; 12. Cymru yn Iwrop/ Wales in Europe; 13. 'The Scottish time-bomb'; Epilogue: we are all Europeans now.