Lord Tebbit: Britain Must be Rescued from the EU

The Freedom Association
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Lord Tebbit of Chingford, former Cabinet Minister under Mrs. Thatcher has written this article for Get Britain Out:

Incontrovertibly, the momentum of the EU debate is swinging firmly towards those who want to Get Britain Out of the EU. This is in part due to the Great British Public becoming more aware of the EU and its activities.

In an exclusive article, former Conservative Party Chairman Lord Tebbit explains how his own experiences of dealing with Europe whilst in office under Margaret Thatcher turned him from a Europhile to a Eurosceptic.

Lord Tebbit : Britain Must be Rescued from the EU

Some fifty or sixty years ago I was a young airline pilot.  I had a higher standard of living than most of my earth bound contemporaries.  I spent half of my life overseas.  I had almost everything in common with my fellow airline pilots from the rest of the free world.  We were mostly NATO trained and we mostly flew very similar aircraft.  We all spoke English as a first or second language.

The problems we faced of poor air traffic control, poor navigation aids and airfields were common to us all and could only be solved by supranational agreement and action. We were really rather like the managers of multinational business corporations – or indeed diplomats.

So the idea of a European Economic Community – the EEC – of like minded European nations committing themselves to forming an economic and political union to solve their common problems, seemed to be just an extension of what I already knew in the air transport industry.

I was a Europhile.  And so I remained until I became a Minister in Margaret Thatcher’s first administration in 1979. As a junior Minister in the Department of Trade with responsibility for civil aviation, shipping and the tourist industry, I attended meetings of the Council of Ministers in Brussels more and more often.

I enjoyed the company of my colleagues from the other member states.  Our meetings were overwhelmingly good natured and constructive, but I gradually became aware of a gulf between my assumptions about the nature, the role and the limitations of government and those of my colleagues.

I can recollect being lectured on our lack of legislation on the rights of women. Eventually, looking around the table I asked: “Which of you works for a female Head of Government?” In later years I criticised because in this Kingdom we have no “right to strike”. My response that since there is no law to forbid anyone (the military apart) from going on strike, we had no need of a law giving that right was met with incredulity. Gradually it dawned upon me. They all took the view the law defined what they were permitted to do.  What was not permitted, they regarded as forbidden.  For them freedom of speech was granted by law, but limited to what had been granted.

To us here in Britain all speech is free – unless there is a law to limit it. Alarmingly, our legislation in recent years has been implementing that European, Napoleonic view of society.

Bit by bit I came to see that our structure of government, largely built on the limitations placed on the Monarch by Magna Carta, was simply not understood by our fellow Europeans from the mainland, nor was it compatible with the continental approach.  We are free to do as we will – provided only that there is no law to prohibit it.

Few of our friends enjoyed a constitution which had not been violently overturned and re-written from scratch more than once since 1215.

Bit by bit, especially as the number of member states increased, I came to the conclusion the “European” destination of “ever closer political union” was not a destination for the United Kingdom.  Indeed I now believe the diversity of cultures between the nations of the north and south of the continent is too great to be bridged for the other member states too.

This has been underlined by the botched enforcement of the single currency which has done so much damage to the economies south of “the olive line” and is now threatening Germany too.

Of course there are still plenty of people who have not progressed beyond the views I held half a century ago.

However, I now have no doubt both our history and the needs of our contemporary society and economy demand we must rescue Britain from what I fear is a political and economic construct which cannot work for us – and may well not work for our friends on the mainland.

Lord Tebbit of Chingford


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Published by Get Britain Out


  • Harry Royle

    Well said, Lord Tebbit.

    • danielfg

      Did you see this about new EU VAT rules. It completely overrides our VAT rules. And Cameron wants to stay in!


      • Tegwyn Hill

        So does Miliband and Clegg. My guess is all three have personal interests.

        • Frankedl

          Those interests seem to be based on, blackmail, bribery, buggery, or a combination of the three.

  • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

    Lord Tebbit, I believe there is always a tipping point in any change of mind. A moment when a sense of “I am a member” but with serious misgivings becomes a sense of “I am out.” In my experience, it happens very suddenly in response to a particular event.

    In my case, it was the announcement that the Irish referendum was to be re-run that shocked and appalled me into the realization that democracy is not safe in the EU, and the best thing we could do for our children was to throw off the malign influence entirely.

    I would be interested to know what the tipping point was for you.

    • Flatdog

      You may or may not remember that in 1992/93, the Danish electorate were made to vote twice on the Maastricht Treaty. They voted “wrong” in 1992, and had to be made to give the “right” answer in 1993.

      • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

        I was aware of that, but I was a student in the USA at the time, where it wasn’t covered at all, so far as I remember. In fact, I had no clue of the Maastricht treaty until my parents visited. I remember my dad telling me about it, and the dismay I felt. However, it was remote from me at the time, so I didn’t react in the way I did over Lisbon.

    • Rob900

      I too remember the Irish vote. If you get it wrong you keep voting until you get it right.
      Its called democracy?????
      Unfortunately, there will be a hung parliament in May and a Government formed by Labour and the Scottish Nationalists. What deals of the devil will be made then?

      • A F

        well you got May right

  • John Bailey

    Excellent Lord Tebbit. What a great pity you had not realised this sooner. Oh! And don’t forget to break the habit of a lifetime, as I have, and join the party of the UK Independence Party. Vote UKIP.

  • Peter Gardner

    Lord Tebbit’s transition from international professional to europhile is entirely understandable and our rulers in Brussels still see the business of national governance as a profession. Couple that with the more recent rise of professional politicians and it is easy to see why multi-national corporations, professional politicians and bureaucrats not only favour membership of the EU but support ever closer union in order to professionalise thoroughly the business of government throughout Europe – and beyond. It makes for easy and stable government, tidiness, mutual understanding of the ‘the way we do things around here’ and cordial relationships. There is just one problem: the opinions, wants and needs of the general population which, since they are not grounded in professional corporatism and governance, are untidy, diverse, conflicting and at odds with cozy rule by a professional elite of government and corporations.

    If history teaches us anything about the nation state it is that where there is such a divide between the governing and the governed a civilisation cannot be successful and will sooner or later fail, frequently with violence, always in poverty and decay.

    The EU will not reform unless and until a large member state decides to leave. Were Britain to invoke Article 50 it would not only be acting in its best interests but also in the interests of every other member state.

    • Rollo10

      “Were Britain to invoke Article 50 ”

      This needs to be done before 31st March 2017, this is the date we become FULLY INTEGRATED into the EU. After this date we lose the right to call Article 50, we lose the right to Repeal European Communities Act 1972 and we must ASK permission from 27 members to hold a Referendum. From these 27, 14 must say Yes, can anyone see 14 POOR Countries saying YES, to losing our money? The ONLY way we are going top leave is by voting UKIP on 7th May 2015!

      • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

        if this is true, my goodness, haven’t the powers that be been awfully, awfully quiet about it?

        31/3/2017? I’ll remember that date. That would explain Cameron’s projected referendum date. The question is, will it be held before or after 31st March?

        I’m sure everybody will have their own opinion, based principally on how strongly they support UKIP. But I’ll remember that date; not least because I find Cameron as slippery as an eel, and don’t trust him an inch. But I’m also aware he needs to watch out for his back benchers, who are well practised these days at holding his feet to the fire.

        Thank you for the heads-up.

        • Rollo10

          Cameron stated categorically LATE 2017!
          This is why he’s spouting the rhetoric, they only need to get over the line in May and we’re finished!

          If you want out YOU MUST VOTE UKIP in May!

      • Peter Gardner

        Rollo, this is serious. I have not seen it in black and white although I have long suspected that something like this is intended – as I have said in posts elsewhere. Can you please supply chapter and verse?

        • danielfg

          I have found from experience that it’s impossible to find anything in EU documents. I have been through the Lisbon Treaty with a toothcomb but there is no mention of Article 50. It must be buried somewhere else.

          • Peter Gardner

            The consolidated text is available here:


            Article 50 has 5 clauses. the first two are:

            1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own
            constitutional requirements.
            2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention.
            In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and
            conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking
            account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be
            negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European
            Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority,
            after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

          • Rollo10
          • danielfg

            There are plenty of extracts on the internet, but being an awkward sod I wanted to see where it is in the actual treaty. The Lisbon Treaty only has seven Articles so where is Article 50?

          • Rollo10

            Only 7 Articles? You sure?


          • danielfg

            That’s pecisely what I mean. Your link shows only eight Articles. The reference to Article 49 TEU was the Maastricht Treaty passed many years before. Typical of the EU which is a past master at obfuscation.

          • Rollo10

            That’s how they hid the European Constitution in Lisbon Treaty!

            The Rejected European Constitution, better known as The Lisbon Treaty;
            “Public Opinion will be led, to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly….All the earlier proposals will be in the new text, but will be hidden and disguised”! (Valery Giscard D’Estaing author of the Lisbon Treaty).

        • Rollo10

          Peter, it’s written in the Lisbon Treaty, it was put out about the same time they published the transfer of laws on 1st Nov 2014!
          The 31st March 2017, is the date the qualified majority kicks in.
          1st Nov 2014 – 31st Mar 2017 ARE THE TRANSITIONAL PERIOD!
          Article 3
          1. In accordance with Article 16(4) of the Treaty on European Union, the provisions of that paragraph and of Article 238(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union relating to the definition of the qualified majority in the European Council and the Council shall take effect on 1 November 2014.

          2. Between 1 November 2014 and 31 March 2017, when an act is to be adopted by qualified majority, a member of the Council may request that it be adopted in accordance with the qualified majority as defined in paragraph 3. In that case, paragraphs 3 and 4 shall apply.

          3. Until 31 October 2014, the following provisions shall remain in force, without prejudice to the second subparagraph of Article 235(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

          For acts of the European Council and of the Council requiring a qualified majority, members’ votes shall be weighted as follows:

          Scroll down to Protocol 37, find out why we had to sell our ‘Steel and Coal’!
          European Union and Article 238(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which will apply with effect from 1 November 2014, including, during a transitional period until 31 March 2017, specific provisions laid down in Article 3(2) of that Protocol.

        • anyoldiron

          It is indeed true.

  • David Larby

    Lord Tebbit I think it has now got to the stage where we shall be actually be voting to save democracy in May.I think that for the time being even ‘left’ and ‘right’ are starting to look irrelevant compared the threat of Brussels’ determination to control all the levers on every facet of our lives however that needs to be achieved. I never thought that as a (previously) life long Conservative voter I would actually be cheering on an extreme left wing party to win an election, but the way I see it is if Greece can leave the EU even with a far left wing government they will still have a better outlook for the future and a better chance of retaining their democracy than staying under a system that is more bent than a circle.

    • George west

      I felt in 1971 that we should stay out of the EC a view shared by Neil Kinnock, Roy Hattersley and Shirley Williams and 298 other MPs who voted in Parliament that year not to enter the so called Common Market but outvoted by 309 other MPs
      Just as Tony Blair promised in 1983 to take us out of the EC if, as he was, elected to Parliament for the first time since membership, he told his Sedgefield voter constituents, was bad for the UK. Membership as we know only too well was built upon deceit
      George West

      • Rollo10

        “Tony Blair promised in 1983 to take us out of the EC if, as he was, elected to Parliament for the first time since membership, he told his Sedgefield voter constituents, was bad for the UK. Membership as we know only too well was built upon deceit”

        One can only wonder how much it cost to change his mind?

    • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

      I don’t know that there’s much any of us can do about it. The political mainstream has decided that the EU must rule, and the EU was designed to emasculate the voters.

      But don’t ask me to vote for any party that advocates my emasculation, because I’m not doing it.

  • Conway

    Exactly, Lord T. We have a completely different mindset not least because we have a different history. We are a square peg in a round hole.

    • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

      I’m sure Rumpy Pumpy would declare that there’s no reason why that can’t work, if you beat the square peg as hard as you can, as frequently as you can.

  • PaderB

    Although I thoroughly agree with what Lord Tebbit has written here, one particular point jumped out at me: “So the idea of a European Economic Community – the EEC – of like minded European nations committing themselves to forming an economic and political union to solve their common problems, seemed to be just an extension of what I already knew in the air transport industry.”.

    You will note that Lord Tebbit was aware from the start as have all politicians even before Heath that it was ALWAYS the intention to have ‘like minded European Nations committing themselves to forming an economic and POLITICAL union”.

    Thankfully many politicians including Lord Tebbit are beginning to see the light concerning membership of the EU but do not forget that the majority of Parliament are under a secret injunction not to criticize the EU openly nor to admit to the aim of political union and that, despite his protestations, very much includes Cameron.

  • Tegwyn Hill

    Haven’t read all the comments but surprised as far as I have read and that Lord Tebbit also omits to not mentioning is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. This will take away even more workers rights and threaten far more strongly than Cameron does our NHS. With this free trade partnership we could end up seeing American Medical Ins. companies taking over our NHS unless Cameron gets it removed from the Partnership now:


    11 July 2014

    THE Transatlantic Trade and
    Investment Partnership (TTIP), the proposed free trade deal (1) between the EU
    and US, is a corporate power grab that threatens our public services,
    environment and democracy, says the Green Party.

    TTIP would grant corporations the
    power to sue governments (2), lock-in the privatisation of public services
    including the NHS, and undo regulations that protect workers, the environment
    and food safety and standards (3).

    The secretive (4) deal must be
    stopped in its tracks argues the Green Party, the only party committed to
    people over profit policies. The TTIP deal is backed by the Tories,
    Labour, Lib Dems and Ukip (5).

    In November 2013 Caroline Lucas,
    Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, tabled an Early Day Motion, raising concerns
    about TTIP and calling for negotiations to be frozen, and in February this year
    opposed TTIP when it was debated in Parliament.

    Natalie Bennett, Green Party
    Leader, said:

    “The proposed deal threatens to
    blow apart the power of our democratic decision making. TTIP is a huge threat
    to hard-fought-for standards for the quality and safety of our food, the
    sources of our energy, workers’ rights and our privacy.

    “The harmonization of food
    standards is particularly concerning. Under the deal food products include
    chemically washed poultry, livestock treated with growth hormones, and
    genetically modified crops – all allowed in the US – could be sold in the UK.”

    Jean Lambert MEP said:

    “TTIP supporters push the myth
    that more trade means more jobs. It doesn’t.

    “There is no guarantee that TTIP
    will be good for job creation – let alone decent jobs that pay enough to live
    on, respect labour rights and promote high health and safety standards. Why
    should we assume those standards will be upheld when other standards are likely
    to go down? These are the standards seen as barriers to business and TTIP is
    all about promoting business.”

    Keith Taylor MEP said:

    “Though huge chunks of this trade
    deal are shrouded in secrecy what we do know is that TTIP poses a very real
    threat to the quality of life of people in the UK.

    “This deal, favoured by multinationals, threatens to slash regulations
    that protect our environment and health. But, most worryingly, it represents a
    serious threat to democracy in our country.

    “It’s astounding that the Lib
    Dems, a party with the word ‘democrat’ in their name, are attacking those
    who want to protect Brits from a trade deal written by big business.”

    Molly Scott Cato, the first Green
    MEP to represent the South-West and Green party Finance spokesperson, said:

    “Greens are totally opposed to
    TTIP, which threatens to undermine our ability to protect the high standards of
    environmental protection, employment rights, and animal welfare that we take
    for granted.

    “The proposals to protect corporate investors against the democratic
    interests of citizens must not be allowed to stand. As Greens in the European
    Parliament we pledge to do everything in our power to prevent TTIP from being

  • old jake

    Thank you for being honest and saying what most of us agree with.

  • Rob Silvertree

    The best explanation for the unease I have felt about the EU….

  • peebee

    Here here! For the same and other similar reasons.

  • Cairo Cobra

    A very perceptive article which identifies how English law differs so fundamentally from the rest of Europe (and Scotland) which has led to our radically different national attitudes and characters.

    UK voters joined the Common Market because we saw it as a way to remove the differences in duty and ease trade between neighbours nations in exactly the same way that air traffic control was standardised.
    I was however disappointed to see Lord T say “….forming an economic and political union to solve their common problems…”. I hope “and political” was a slip of the tongue. Heath knew the covert aim of ever closer and irreversible political union but I hope Lord T didn’t. Our politicians were also short-sighted and failed to see the larger picture and the damage taking us into Europe has done to our wider world trade which was already well established through Commonwealth ties which were then reversed.

  • Joe bloggs

    Yet another Lord, MP or potential politician telling us that it would be best to come out of the EU. To most I would say look at the written laws from the EU and the Court of Justice. then look at the laws (if you can find them) set out by our government. our rights are being eroded. Most Lords, MPs and potential politicians are afraid, that the EU government will take all the power and the supremacy from our current system. It has nothing to do with looking after the people and more will understand this through time.

  • Sheila Jones

    absolutely… the man has brains, well said Tebbit well said.

  • http://www.optimaexcel.co.uk Jonathon Harrington

    Accepting that Lord Tebbit is right on this matter the problem from my viewpoint is whether or not to trust David Cameron to deliver on his assurance of a referendum I am unable to understand how any sensible person (and I do know a few) could vote either Lib/Dem or Labour. Hence it has to be UKIP or Conservative for me. Suggestions please!

  • Paul

    The EU along with the USA is about world Government.

  • Graeme Gardner

    My sentiments exactly. We have laws to tell us what we can not do and this revolves around the English common Law. In continental Europe, we have the Napoleonic Code, which is diametrically opposed to our own system. One of the reasons I voted Leave was due to the belief that the EU wanted to impose Corpus Juris on the UK, which sadly was glossed over by both Leave and Remain with only a few exceptions

  • sammy

    the EU was Hitler’s idea (“united states of europe”, which started as the league of nations). His IVF daughter angela merkel now runs her daddy’s vision. Do I really need to go into why the UK would be better off OUTSIDE of a nazi labour union dictatorship?

  • anyoldiron


    Before I die, I need to know WHY
    You each gave our country away?
    Why you signed that treacherous Treaty
    Without giving the people a say?
    Before I die, I need to know HOW
    You managed to deceive us so?
    All those who placed in YOU their trust
    How was it even THEY didn’t know?

    Before I die I need to know WHERE
    We will be able to trust again
    Our fellow man-all on the same side,
    Oh, how I need to know when?
    Before I die I need to know WHO
    Can look me straight in the eye?
    Yet betray once more with that manicured hand
    And for their own ends tell lie after lie?

    Before I die I need to know IF
    Our Country will once more be free?
    So many millions died for that end
    How could you ignore their plea?
    Before I die I would like to KNOW
    How you can sleep at night?
    For heavy the weight will lie on you
    That you didn’t learn wrong from right.

    Before YOU die I want YOU to know
    I’d rather have fought and lost.
    For to do what YOU between you have done
    You WILL come to know the true dreadful cost.
    Before you die I want you to know THAT
    Britannia will once again rule the waves,
    Never again will foreigners rule
    For the English and St George was saved.