My latest article for the National Interest, which will also appear in the forthcoming print edition of the magazine, looks at the domestic politics of Britain’s relationship with Europe.
TWENTY-FIVE years ago, Sir Geoffrey Howe resigned as deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom in protest of Margaret Thatcher’s staunch anti-Europeanism. Howe’s departure from the frontbenches came just two days after Thatcher’s denunciation in Parliament of plans for a European single currency (“No! No! No!”), a moment that has since become totemic of what Howe condemned in his resignation speech as the prime minister’s alacrity to undermine her own ministers over European issues. Whereas some in Thatcher’s cabinet—not least of all Howe, a former foreign secretary, and Nigel Lawson, then chancellor of the exchequer—preferred that Britain be an active participant in crafting Economic and Monetary Union, the Iron Lady consistently sought to stymie their progress and appeared bent on using British influence to forestall the emergence of European-level institutions of economic governance. An impasse existed at the top of British politics, one that Howe sought to overcome by precipitating an open debate within the Conservative Party over the country’s future in Europe and the wider world….