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HomeNewsHeath’s object lesson in how to surrender to the EU

Heath’s object lesson in how to surrender to the EU


TCW has discovered a copy of a confidential letter Prime Minister Edward Heath sent to his Norwegian counterpart in 1971.

It places pressure on Norway to accept the EU’s suddenly produced Common Fisheries Policy, developed to seize control of the fishing grounds of the UK, Norway and Eire as they applied for membership of the EU.

The letter is well worth studying as a model of how to surrender UK interests to the EU, and the devastating effects of doing so. Christopher Booker’s Daily Telegraph article is a crystal-clear account of what happened, written by him on the release of the cabinet papers 30 years later. 

Points to note in particular are:

1.    The CFP was an illegal claim by the EU in international law, and remained so until John Major’s Maastricht Treaty gave it legal status.

2.    Norway rejected the CFP and protected its fisheries while the UK simply caved in totally and did not fight it at all – as admitted by David Hannay, who was on the UK team and edited the official report of the talks.

3.    Heath and his chief negotiator with Europe, Geoffrey Rippon, resorted to lying to Parliament, directly, and even gave the Commons a draft of the legislation which left out the offending clauses for approval, then pasted them in afterwards, surely an impeachable deception?

4.    Note the now familiar ‘ticking clock’ tactic used by the EU then and now, also the deceptive ‘transitional’ concept to draw the UK and Norway in. Norway rejected all these tricks. The EU is demanding the continuation of this open access to UK fisheries as a precondition of a trade deal: is Heath’s letter a terrible reminder of the damaging consequences of such appeasement?  

5.    Should any access be granted to EU fishing boats, and if would, say, £30billion per year be a fair rental, given the extreme loss imposed on the UK over the years?

6.    Note the massive loss of revenue and resources, and the destruction of the UK fishing fleet. pages 171 ff and 180 ff: the Scottish economy has lost £900million per year, for example.

7.    What kind of an institution is it which cynically destroys the fishing fleet of a friendly partner nation? Note in the Booker article that Heath thought nothing of the loss of 22,000 jobs – has this Conservative contempt for the industry improved at all since 1971? We need to note the savagery of the EU in plundering UK fisheries, which amounted to a de facto economic war against UK fishing communities and removal of the tradition cheap food, cod and haddock, for UK families.  

8.    What kind of government actively colludes with this, and covers it up from Parliament?

9.    Note that Sir Con O’Neill, who led the UK delegation, pointed out the EU was demanding full access to the UK fisheries, which had been carefully conserved in contrast to the Belgian and French fisheries which had been devastated by bad management: this fate was then visited on the UK waters.

Is there any chance that Boris Johnson will not cave in to the EU’s ‘ultimatum’ that it must have the same rules and access over UK waters as now, or will he emulate Heath’s abject capitulation?

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Timothy Bradshaw
Timothy Bradshaw
Timothy Bradshaw is a Theological lecturer and Anglican clergyman

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