THE TRUTH IS OUT: 1975 REFERENDUM VOTERS WERE DUPED
SECRET Cabinet documents released from Whitehall this week gave a fascinating insight into the way voters were duped in the run-up to the 1975 referendum on Britain’s links with Europe.
The Foreign Office papers were declassified following a year-long freedom of information battle by the Eurosceptic pressure group Britain for Business.
And they reveal that official advice given to ministers in Harold Wilson’s Labour government about the full impact on the country of joining the European Economic Community, the forerunner to today’s European Union, was not disclosed to the public.
Ministers were warned that the lawmaking powers of the Brussels bureaucracy would lead to “a gross infringement of the sovereignty” of the Westminster Parliament.
And a senior official told Mr Wilson, who was then prime minister, that transferring powers to the Brussels-based European Commission threatened the “most serious attack on Parliamentary democracy with which this country was faced”.
These disturbing revelations raise fresh questions about the 1975 vote in favour of remaining in the EEC. They also add to the urgent case for a new national poll on whether Britain should quit the EU. The papers are bound to be raised in the Commons in the coming weeks when MPs debate the Tory bill attempting to pave the way for an In/Out referendum on the UK’s EU membership by the end of 2017.
But some Tories are already concerned that an attempt to discreetly wreck the bill with parliamentary procedure is already being plotted by EU enthusiasts.
It is expected that many MPs will try to use up Commons time with lengthy discussions about two Lib Dem private members bills scheduled to be debated ahead of the referendum measure.
One Tory MP said: “We need to kill the two Lib Dem bills that are in the way. The danger is we are running out of time to pass the Referendum Bill.”
MPs have a historic chance to allow voters a real decision about Britain’s future in Europe after the discredited poll that took place nearly 40 years ago. It would be unforgiveable if Westminster dirty tricks nobbled the process again.