The things Conservative prime ministers say about Europe

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The Independent Online
SIX years after Baroness Thatcher delivered the Bruges speech that caused such anger among other European leaders, Mr Major's Leiden lecture adopts a remarkably similar tone while employing, in part, tougher terminology, writes Patricia Wynn Davies. As his predecessor insisted on the need for practical policies, not ideological goals, he argues for a vision 'grounded in reality' and planning for a 'future that works'. Taking the theme of the long-term future of Europe, he insists it is outgrowing the concept of the original founders of the European Union. As she railed against the suppression of nationhood, he derides the European Parliament as a collection of 'unrepresentative and rather incoherent range of parties'.

What Margaret Thatcher said, College of Europe Speech, Bruges, 21 September 1988.

'Europe is not the creation of the Treaty of Rome. Nor is the European idea the property of any group or institution. We British are as much heirs to the legacy of European culture as any other nation.'

'. . . we have looked also to wider horizons . . . and thank goodness for that, because Europe would never have prospered and never will prosper as a narrow-minded, inward-looking club.'

'The European Community belongs to all its members. It must reflect the traditions and aspirations of all its members.'

'. . . willing and active co-operation between independent sovereign states is the best way to build a successful European community.'

'To try to suppress nationhood and concentrate power at the centre of a European conglomerate would be highly damaging and would jeopardise the objectives we seek to achieve.'

'We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain only to see them reimposed at a European level, with a European superstate exercising a new dominance from Brussels.'

'What we need now is to take decisions on the next steps forward rather than let ourselves be distracted by Utopian goals.'

What John Major said, William and Mary Lecture, Leiden 7 September 1994.

'Britain is said to be a backmarker. The caricature is ludicrous. Many of the key developments of the past few years have been advanced by Britain's advocacy.'

'How often have we seen the headline 'Britain isolated'? . . . We don't see this question asked when, as often happens, other Member States stand on their own in what they see as important national interests.'

'If we are to build well, we must build carefully. We do not just want a futuristic grand design which never leaves the drawing board.'

'The determination of the Founding Fathers has succeeded far beyond the estimations of most people in their time. Their vision was proved right for its age. But it is outdated. It will not do now.'

'Even though the original ambitious schemes were not incorporated in the Maastricht Treaty, the final outcome nevertheless strained the limits of acceptability to Europe's electors. . . We need a vision grounded in reality.'

'People will continue to see national Parliaments as their democratic focus. . . The European Parliament is not the answer to the democratic deficit, as the pitiably low turn-out in this year's European elections so vividly illustrated.'