Richard North, 25/03/2017  

When the "colleagues" needed to regroup after the shock of the EU Referendum, they went scurrying off to the Italian island of Ventotene to lay flowers at the tomb of Altiero Spinelli, long considered to be one of the founding fathers of European unity following World War II.

Ventotene, of course, was the prison island where Spinelli wrote his famous Ventotene Manifesto in which he set out his vision for a "European Federation". But, as to how that should come about, we need look no further than this passage in his Manifesto:
During the revolutionary crisis, this movement will have the task of organising and guiding progressive forces, using all the popular bodies which form spontaneously, incandescent melting pots in which the revolutionary masses are mixed, not for the creation of plebiscites, but rather waiting to be guided.

It derives its vision and certainty of what must be done from the knowledge that it represents the deepest needs of modern society and not from any previous recognition by popular will, as yet non-existent. In this way it issues the basic guidelines of the new order, the first social discipline directed to the unformed masses. By this dictatorship of the revolutionary party a new State will be formed, and around this State new, genuine democracy will grow.
In other words, as we wrote in The Great Deception, "the people" were not to be involved in the construction of this new state. Popular assent would be sought only when the project was all but complete. At that moment their "crowning dream" would be the calling of a "constituent assembly", to "decide upon the constitution they want".

The drawing up of the constitution would be the final act in the emergence of the "United States of Europe". Only then, within the framework of the new state which had been brought into being, would "democracy" be permitted to resume.

Fast forward now to Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, writing in the Guardian on the eve of the 60th anniversary, who sees fit to tell us that:
European integration was always a project created by the people, for the people. It was a movement carried by a generation who came together to proclaim: "Never again!"
That this was "always a project created by the people" is beyond the pale. It is a blatant lie. And it is times like these that one is reminded why we invested so much in the campaign to leave the EU. Not for nothing did we call our book The Great Deception: the whole history of le projet is one based on deceit, where even the official hagiography is false.

So ingrained has it become though that the perpetrators, like Juncker, actually believe their own propaganda. He is no doubt convinced that the EU (and the institutions that came before it) were indeed "created by the people" - he has bought into the deception.

Confronted with this, there is no point in arguing, no point in engaging. The intellectual corruption is so deep that it is not possible to root it out. The narrative is locked in and beyond change.

We see something similar with Denis MacShane writing in the Independent, repeating the same old canard about Britain's original refusal to join the Six in setting up the EEC. He asserts:
The planning meeting for the Treaty of Rome took place on Messina in 1956. Again the British prime minister was absent. Instead, a Board of Trade official was sent, who told the Europeans present at the creation of what is now the EU: "Gentlemen, you are trying to negotiate something you will never be able to negotiate. But if negotiated, it will not be ratified. And if ratified it will not work". Thus spake Britannia.
The account is pure fiction, not least because there was no British representative at the Messina meeting which, in any case, took place in 1955. MacShane is referring to the proceedings of the Spaak Committee held in Brussels, and a steering committee meeting held on 7 November 1955. It was at this meeting that a Board of Trade official, Russell Bretherton, made a pre-planned announcement that Britain was to withdraw from the talks on the common market.

The way in which he communicated this has become a legendary episode in the history of Britain's relations with "Europe", subject to the most bizarre historical disagreement.

Booker and I review this episode in detail in The Great Deception and, on the basis of official documents, found that there was never any question of the UK joining the EEC. The decision had already been made, well before Bretherton gave official notice.

In fact, there was never any expectation at the time that the UK would join. Writing in his own memoirs, Spaak himself refers to a memorandum dated 19 December 1955, addressed to the German government. It declared that "…it is our view that Britain cannot join such a project". The lurid accounts of the UK "walking out" are invention.

This, though, typifies the entire UK experience – myth, deception, obfuscation and invention. When we did finally join the EEC, Heath was fully aware of what integration with "Europe" entailed. Shortly after Parliament approved Britain's entry, word came from Paris that Pompidou was proposing that member states should make a solemn agreement to "move irrevocably to economic and monetary union by 1980".

In the 1995 BBC documentary The Poisoned Chalice, Sir Roy Denman, present at the time, recalled the foreign secretary, Douglas Home, looking askance at this news. He said to Heath: "The House isn't going to like this". "But that", Denman recalled Heath replying, "is what it's all about".

When Heath himself was asked in 1995 by the BBC whether he could really have said such a thing, he made no attempt to deny it. His only response, after an unsmiling pause, was, "well, that's what it was about".

As we progressed through the years, however, the Conservative Party went into denial. It developed its own narrative, settling on the line that we had joined a trading bloc which somehow has lost its way and got sidetracked into pursuing its ambitions of political integration. This allowed yet another myth to prevail that, if only the politics could be detached from the trade, our relations with "Europe" could be stabilised.

Bizarrely, now that we have decided to leave, the hard core Tory "Ultras" want to ditch trade as well and break off relations with the EU completely. The old narrative has lost its force and we are in the grip of a new obsession.

That makes the BBC documentary title so apt: The Poisoned Chalice. Everything touched by le projet becomes poisoned, distorted and perverted. It is destroying our politics and corrupting our national life.

Diplomatically, Mrs May's has elected not to attend today's anniversary celebrations in Rome. That is one thing she has got right. She is better off out of it. We are all better off out of it. Nothing good has ever come from our participation in the The Great Deception. Mr Juncker has done us the great favour of reminding us why we had to leave.

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