At the height of speculation about Conservative Party division on the question of Britain's continued membership in the European Economic Community, Opposition Leader Margaret Thatcher told a news conference in London on Tuesday (3 June) that most Conservatives want Britain to remain in the Community.
SV ZOOM INTO MV Mrs. Thatcher speaking
CU Sign "Britain in Europe"
CU Mrs. Thatcher interviewed
TRANSCRIPT (SEQ 3): MRS. THATCHER: "I have found great support for the idea of great support for the idea of Britain in Europe as I have gone round to Conservative meetings, and I think the support has been much deeper than support to the leadership, although I accept that is a strong and powerful factor and I'm quite happy that it should be so, in Conservative politics. But we have had leaders who've commanded very considerable respect; a combination of leadership of Winston Churchill, Harold MacMillan and alec Douglas-Home and Edward Heath, that quite apart from any recent innovations is quite a significant one."
REPORTER: "In this issue there are some things that are bigger than parties."
MRS. THATCHER: Indeed, that is why 249 Conservative members supported the Labour Government on a free vote on Britain in Europe. Indeed, had the Prime Minister had to rely on his own members for the European idea, he would not have got a majority. As we know, there are fewer Labour members supporting the Prime Minister than there were absent from the lobbies when we had this free vote.
REPORTER: "Do you feel, that after a 'yes' vote, Britain should be an enthusiastic supporter and participant in the trade group on matters of monetary union, social union?"
MRS. THATCHER: "I think immediately after a large 'yes' vote, the first thing will be for the Labour Government to say that it accepts the pro-European decision, wholeheartedly, and it will then put Labour members of Parliament into the European assembly. That would obviously be the first morale booster. After that, I believe that the way forward in the early stages is likely to come more through small policy arrangements among the Council of Ministers than through changes in the institutions.
Initials BB/2000 MC/DE/BB/1950
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: At the height of speculation about Conservative Party division on the question of Britain's continued membership in the European Economic Community, Opposition Leader Margaret Thatcher told a news conference in London on Tuesday (3 June) that most Conservatives want Britain to remain in the Community.
She said 249 Conservative Members of Parliament supported the Labour Government on a free vote on Britain in Europe, and maintained per party was overwhelmingly in favour of a "Yes" vote.
The speculation arose from statements by one of Mrs. Thatcher's strongest political supporters, Conservative backbenchers' leader Mr. Edward Du Cann, who has long been an opponent of Britain's membership.
Mr. Du Cann said a lot of Conservative supporters had hidden their anti-market views because of loyalty to the party leadership, but he advised them to put their country first.
At the news conference, Mrs. Thatcher strongly urged the British people to vote "yes" in the referendum on Thursday (5 June).
Questions and answers from the news conference are included in the film.