Sun The June Press
Home All
Books
New
Books
Offers Shopping eurofacts Events Links

Britain Held Hostage Britain Held Hostage
by Lindsay Jenkins. £11.99
Paperback, 339pp
Reprinted with a new foreword by Frederick Forsyth. The how and why of the EU explained and exposed, including planning before the Second World War.
Reviewer Dr Martin Holmes

[eurofacts (Vol 2 No 20/21) – 8th August 1997]

All Euro-sceptics who heard Lindsay Jenkins' speech to the 1995 Bruges Group conference, and who subsequently read her excellent paper on the "godfather" of the EU, Altiero Spinelli, have been long awaiting her book. They will not be disappointed. Britain Held Hostage is both a chronological and a thematic account of the origins and development of European integration which accurately chronicles how Britain, through the venality of the Heath generation, slowly but surely surrendered its sovereignty. Ms Jenkins writes with authority, clarity and analytical precision and is the master of the extensive primary and secondary source material with which her account is commendably illustrated.

Although inevitably she travels territory which has been covered by Bernard Connolly and John Laughland in their authoritative studies of the German origins of the ideology of "Europeanism," she adds to their analysis a timely consideration of the role played by the Americans from the 1940s onwards. To be sure, there were those wise Americans, such as Cordell Hull, who were suspicious of the mercantilist customs union economics favoured by the continentals since the 17th century. In the Commerce and Agriculture Departments they correctly argued that the political economy of European integration was antithetical to America's globalist trading policy. But the White House, guided especially by the State Department, viewed the EEC as an extension of Cold War politics whereby western interests would be bolstered against communism. The Americans saw European integration, in which Britain would actively participate, as a process which Washington could control; the continentals, by contrast, saw the same process as an alternative to Washington's leadership enabling Europe, in the fullness of time, to stand up to either the Americans or the Soviets. In short, just like the British proponents of EEC membership, the Americans exaggerated - to the point of self delusion - just how far they could lead, shape, change and mould Europe. Tragically, as Ms Jenkins argues, this delusion still grips the policy élites in Washington and London to this day.

Although she rightly stresses the role of Dulles, Frankfurter and Acheson in this dismal process I was surprised that she did not have more to say about Henry Kissinger, who directly intervened to pressurize the Wilson government in general, and Jim Callaghan in particular, not to jeopardise Britain's membership by a genuine renegotiation of terms in 1974-5. Kissinger's over-arching theory of international relations - the "geopolitics" of his Harvard years - could easily embrace European unity as the way to outwit the Soviet Union in the battle for hearts and minds in western Europe, not least in Italy and France where communist parties were electorally formidable. Kissinger believed, for example, that if Ireland joined the EEC then it would be likely to join NATO and to abandon its traditional neutrality. Britain, to Kissinger, could be the bulwark of a pro-American integrationist process which shows just how far he - and the defeatist British governments of the day - deluded themselves that it would be possible to stall the Franco-German federal engine.

Lindsay Jenkins tells a sad story of Britain's misguided and unnecessary involvement in a process which, at least until Macmillan, the Attlee, Churchill and Eden governments had wisely left alone. As she proves, there is no middle way of changing the federalist impulse from within, nor any possibility that the continentals will renounce their 50 year old project by embracing a Europe of nation states. Tragically, at the time of writing, the option of leaving the EU is as necessary as it is unlikely.

Dr Martin Holmes is Co-Chairman of the Bruges Group.

the june press