Romance and Courtship
Winston Churchill, in the years immediately following World War II, out of office but still hugely influential, sometimes then sounded like the herald of a ‘United States of Europe’, at least of its non-Communist components. But when he returned to power in the early 1950s, he never entered into any practical negotiations with the original six-member European Economic Community, and his successor, Anthony Eden, showed no enthusiasm for doing so.
However, when I was living in London in 1960-61, it looked as if Harold Macmillan’s Conservative Government was going to take the U. K. into the EEC. I was in favour, i nfluenced by persuasive arguments I was reading in the literate political monthly, Encounter. I was unimpressed by the opposing populist views (‘Empire Free Trade!’)regularly thundered by Max Beaverbrook and his minions in the Daily Express, which had over four million readers in those days. I was also little moved by hostile fulminations I heard from radical orators in Hyde Park.
As a mathematics student at Queen’s, I had not been very interested in politics of any kind, but Britain rapidly drew me in. I began, like many of my generation, with an illusory enthusiasm for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which I imagined as having far greater importance than the European economic question. I was unconvinced of the necessity of nuclear weapons for Britain or Canada, and I attended numerous CND rallies, listening attentively to Bertrand Russell. But I soon acquired doubts. ‘Unilateralism’ looked to me too much like a dangerous unreciprocated favour to the Soviets, and the more I read about atomic weapons, the more I understood the grim logic of maintaining them. In any case, the CND Trafalgar Square crowds were having little impact on the House of Commons. Like the Conservatives, the Hugh Gaitskell-led Labour opposition supported strategic deterrence, more divided about joining the EEC.