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History
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THE LATEST PROGRAMME
Thursday 18 April 2002, 8.00-8.30pm
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The 1975 EEC Referendum


Six months before the EEC Referendum of June 1975, all the opinion polls suggested that the No campaign would be home and dry. In fact, they lost by a 2:1 majority, and Britain's entry into the European Union was resoundingly confirmed.

Britain had joined the EEC in 1972, one of Prime Minister Ted Heath's proudest moments. Professor Chris Andrew imagines a different outcome: that Britain remained outside the EU, and that the continent remained cut-off by fog.

He recreates this alternative recent past with the help of Hugo Young, columnist on The Guardian, Professor Tony King of Essex University, both of whom have written acclaimed books on the topic of Europe, and arch Euro-sceptic John Redwood MP.

Such was the assurance of the No campaigners, among them Tony Benn, that it was they who'd been pushing for a referendum all along. This is how confident they were that the British public would reject continued European membership.

But what if the No campaigners had been right? What if the plebiscite had occurred six months earlier and the result had indeed gone against European membership?

Professor Chris Andrew posits a Britain standing alone and outside Europe after 1975, and asks what the effect on our politics, economy and our relations with Europe and America would have been.

Further reading

Hugo Young
This Blessed Plot: Britain and Europe from Churchill to Blair
Macmillan
ISBN: 0333754115

John Redwood
Just Say No!
Politico's Publishing
ISBN: 1902301994
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PRESENTER

photo: Jerry Bauer

Professor Christopher Andrew of Cambridge University asks what if major turning points in history had taken a different turn. By altering a single plausible fact, he re-examines the events of the day. The result is always thought-provoking, and refreshes our memories of what did actually happen. In suggesting an alternative history, we can reflect on how extraordinary it is that things did indeed happen in the way they did.

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