Letter: Xenophobic eye on the hustings

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is now a truism that one of the most fateful failures of our early post-war foreign policy was to decline offers to the UK by victors and vanquished alike, as the only combatant European nation to avert both hostile occupation and defeat, to accept the leading role in Western Europe's new structuring, designed to prevent ever again our Continent being ravaged by internecine conflicts. Our governments of the day believed any such achievement was anyhow unattainable, with or without us. Fifty years later, we are in danger of making the same mistake again.

How anyone sensible can attack Kenneth Clarke for doing his best to see this does not happen passes my comprehension ("Can anyone fill Clarke's shoes?", 25 September).

Of course HMG, especially the Prime Minister himself, go on staunchly reiterating that we are determined to be "at the heart of Europe". Up to now the only evidence of this proud aim, as seen by our mainland partners, is Britain's readiness in the Council of Ministers to administer cardiac arrests whenever it is thought, rightly or wrongly, that our national interests could be adversely affected.

What makes this situation worse is a growing suspicion by many Conservatives who are neither obsessed Europhiles nor wets nor unpatriotic lefties, that the true motivation of some of our Tory Euro-sceptics is to put their faith in narrow nationalist attitudes, tinged with xenophobia, to try to ensure that enough popular sentiment is whipped up to secure a fifth Conservative term in office.

Sir FREDERIC BENNETT

Aberangell, Powys

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