Letter: It was Eden who ruled out Europe

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Sir: Winston Churchill, President of Honour of the European Movement, was certainly regarded by one of its founders - my father, E K Cole - as fully committed to a United States of Europe ("A Euro-sceptic? Churchill? Never", 27 September).

As a lifelong Conservative - he always paid 50 per cent of their election expenses in Southend East - Eric Cole regarded Churchill's words on the Schuman Plan quoted by Ted Heath as a commitment at the 1951 election to join, and was astonished when Anthony Eden in Rome immediately ruled it out.

The very same day, Harold Macmillan was telling the Council of Europe in Strasbourg that we would be taking a full part. Equally astonished, he rushed back to Churchill, who said he could not interfere with the way Eden ran foreign affairs. Churchill was stuck with a Eurosceptic foreign minister just as Major is stuck with a Europhile chancellor.

Eden's memoirs, Full Circle, do not even mention his reasons for his momentous and catastrophic decision not to join the Common Market.

My father lived to see the sad failure of Macmillan's application to join. But he was not without hope; virtually his last political comment to me was: "I like the look of that young man Heath!"


St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex