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
“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?
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
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
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
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.”