"Monty" saw the dangers in the so-called "Common Market"
01/09/2006

The following is a copy of a transcript of a speech made on the 4th June, 1962, by Field-Marshal Viscount Montgomery, which was kindly sent to the editor of the Euro Realist by a reader some time ago. “Wherever one goes in our country today the talk is about the Common Market - should Britain go in, or should we stay out? Ministers in the government appear to be unable to explain clearly to us what it all really means! For myself, I have always been opposed to Britain joining the Common Market - mainly on military and strategic grounds, a side of the argument which seems to have escaped the attention of the government. Further, it is my opinion that if we bind ourselves irrevocably to Europe it will mean the end of the British Commonwealth. The greatest stabilising factor in international affairs since the Roman Empire would be then be wantonly cast away. And what about our staunch friends in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who are united with us by kindred ties of blood and speech? Their soldiers fought under my command in the battlefields of Africa and Europe, and many gave their lives in order that we might have the freedom of action our country now enjoys and that the Commonwealth might endure. Are we now to throw overboard our friends who came to our help in the crisis? Never! We are told by Ministers that Britain will join the Common Market if it can be done without damaging the Commonwealth. And they give us to understand that a way can be found which will satisfy all concerned; this is totally untrue. Whatever Ministers may say, if we join the European Community it must have a damaging effect on the Commonwealth, and we are fooling ourselves if we think otherwise. Too many political personalities are trying to sit on the fence as long as possible, lacking the courage to come out into the open and say what the issue really is. For instance, the government is trying to get the best of both worlds - to join the Common Market and also preserve the Commonwealth undamaged. It cannot be done, and this fact cannot be stated too often and too clearly. The six nations which signed the Treaty of Rome in March 1957, are: France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. A close association of these nations economically will undoubtedly strengthen Western Europe, which is all to the good. But the Treaty not only professes to encourage unity, it enforces unity. The intention behind the Rome Treaty is something more than the Common Market; there would be little point in the Treaty if that was to be at all; the “something more” is political unity, a Federation on the model of the USA. We could not possibly take part in that; it might well mean that we would have our laws made for us by Europeans and not by our own Parliament. What a frightful idea! For all these reasons I am utterly opposed to our nation joining the Common Market. I know very well all that has gone on in Europe since the war ended. That experience, gained over many years of close association with the government of NATO, taught me that there is no true unity in Western Europe. Too many of the nations are allies only in name; there is intense nationalism, and no nation is prepared to make any sacrifice of sovereignty for the common good of all. I know the European peoples well, and I like them exceedingly; but this is not to say that we should tie ourselves to them. We most certainly should not. Federal Germany has today the most powerful army in Western Europe; when the French cease to be embarrassed by Algeria, they will come second; Britain would be so outnumbered on the Continent that our voice in military affairs would be overborne. At present we can deploy our armed forces about the world as our commitments dictate; but if we sign the Treaty of Rome the resultant emphasis on Europe would be the dominating factor; our freedom of action with regard to other continents would be in grave danger. If we became part of a European community we would be pledged willy-nilly to a common European strategy. And what would be the result? I will tell you. Our Bomber Command would be subject to orders from Europe. What might be then become of the British nuclear deterrent? Today, by special arrangements with NATO, we can deploy our fighter aircraft anywhere in the world; that flexibility would be in danger. Once we sign the Treaty of Rome, our armed forces, Navy, Army, Air Force, would be subordinated in a crisis to orders from Europe - orders given, maybe, by a German general, whose nation has disturbed the peace of the world during the past 48 years. Are we to put up with this? Never! I stand for the British Commonwealth with our Queen at its head. But, alas!, it is not what it used to be when I was a boy. Let us then strengthen it; but we will not do that by becoming entangled in the political system of Europe. If the time should come when a third World War is fought between East and West, which God forbid, there is only one race under Heaven which could stand between the Western world and utter destruction in such a crisis. That is the race to which we belong - the British people - united by close ties of blood, speech and religion the world over. Let us then keep clear of the Common Market and the surrender of sovereignty, freedom of action, and military flexibility which membership would entail. We British are a great people; I often wonder what has come over us that we want to tie ourselves with the nations of continental Europe and chuck the Commonwealth overboard. Let us rather continue to rely on our own strength and judgement. Let the Mother of Nations gather her children about her in obedience to the call of the common kindred; do not let her cast away the affection of her offspring. Let her grasp the hand of her children and draw them closer to her - rather than desert them. Thus will the ancient heart be warmed and inspired - a heart which is beating today just as firmly as it did in the days of Trafalgar and El Alamein.”

 
 
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