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In Bruges

Wednesday, 17 April, 2013

On 20 September 1988, Margaret Thatcher delivered her famous Bruges speech. The venue was the College of Europe, the Oxbridge, the Harvard and the MIT of the European Union. It produces the officer class of the “European project” and most graduates go on to work in the European Commission, Parliament, Central Bank or the Court of Justice.

In Bruges, Mrs Thatcher spoke to those who religiously believe that federalism is the European raison d’être. To their horror, she sang the praises of national sovereignty. “The European Community is one manifestation of that European identity, but it is not the only one. We must never forget that east of the Iron Curtain, people who once enjoyed a full share of European culture, freedom and identity have been cut off from their roots. We shall always look on Warsaw, Prague and Budapest as great European cities.”

Margaret Thatcher called out the federalists in Bruges and accused them of plotting the end of the nation state in Europe. In doing to, she placed Europe at the heart of British politics and the aftershocks continue to this day. That fact that her successor as leader of the Tory Party, David Cameron, has pledged an in/out referendum on Europe is something she could not have dreamed of that night in Bruges.


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