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This Sceptred Isle

Another Thatcher Victory & Cabinet Divisions
In September 1988, PM, Margaret Thatcher, set a bench mark by which her policy on Europe would be longed judged.
This was her Bruges speech. In it, she made the memorable statement: "We have not succeeded in rolling back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to be seen them reimposed at a European level."
With these words, Thatcher fanned the cause of what was to be the credo of the Euro-sceptic.
Her target was the central authority as advocated by the President of the European Commission, Jacques Delors.
From this September speech, came the Bruges Group - a largely Tory band of Thatcher supporters - opposed to the political union envisaged by the more fervent champions of the Treaty of Rome.
Thatcher did not have unanimous Cabinet support for her policies.
More significantly at this point, her Chancellor, Nigel Lawson, directly opposed her tendency to rely on an economic adviser, Alan Walters, rather than her own Treasury.
If the PM was losing allies at home, she was about to lose a greater one abroad.
Ronald Reagan had served the second of his Presidential terms and that autumn saw the election of George Bush who would be less in awe of Thatcher than Reagan.

Peter Wright (Spy Catcher)
Peter Wright (Spy Catcher)
Peter Wright (born 1916)

  • Peter Wright was born in Chesterfield.
  • He joined the Admiralty's Research Laboratory during World War II and continued a career in government service.
  • He transferred to MI5 in 1955 and developed espionage devices and ways of detecting Soviet 'moles'.
  • He retired in 1976 and went to live in Australia.
  • He wrote an autobiography Spy Catcher in 1987.
  • Margaret Thatcher's government did their utmost to prevent its publication to no avail.

did you know?
Paddy Ashdown became the leader of the newly styled Social and Liberal Democrats in 1988.

Cabinet Rift 1988
Extract From Geoffrey Howe's Memoir

Looking back now on my last year at the Foreign Office, it is remarkable just how fragmented relationships had by then become between the Prime Minister and each of her three senior colleagues - Nigel Lawson, Douglas Hurd and myself.
This was above all true in important questions of European policy.
The Bruges speech in September 1988 had been the subject of detailed, though inconclusive, negotiations between Charles Powell and my officials.
Most of my major speeches were now being similarly handled.
So too the manifesto.
The final fragment of text, about the possible entry into the Exchange Rate Mechanism, which Nigel Lawson and I had worked up together in a meeting on the sixteenth of March, had been settled in a brief exchange between draftsman Chris Patten and - unusually for a civil servant - Charles Powell.

Select historical period

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1979Margaret Thatcher PM (Conservative)
Rhodesian settlement at Lancaster House
1980Southern Rhodesia becomes Zimbabwe
1981Prince Charles marries Lady Diana Spencer
Ronald Reagan President of the USA
1982Britain wins the Falklands War
1983Margaret Thatcher wins landslide victory
1984 Indira Gandhi of India assassinated
Death of poet, John Betjeman
1985 Mikhail Gorbachev succeeds Chernenko as Soviet leader
1986 Elizabeth II first British monarch to visit China
1987Worst storm of the century rages over Great Britain
1988George Bush wins US Presidential election
Bruges speech
1989Tiananmen Square massacre
1990Tories oust Margaret Thatcher
John Major new leader
Iraqi invasion of Kuwait
1991The Second Gulf War
1993The Maastricht Treaty comes into force

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