This book provides both a comprehensive introduction and a perceptive examination of Britain's relations with the European Community and the European Union since 1945, combining an historical account with political analysis to illustrate the changing and multifaceted nature of British and European politics. Few issues in British politics since 1945 have generated such heated controversy as Britain's approach to the process of European integration associated with the European Union. The long-running debate on the subject has not only played a major part in the downfall of prime ministers and other leading political figures but has also exposed major fault-lines within governments and caused deep and rancorous divisions within and between the major political parties. This highly contested issue has given rise to bitter campaigning in the press and between pressure groups, and it has bemused, confused and divided the public at large. Key questions addressed include: Why has Europe had such an explosive impact on British politics? What impelled British policymakers to join the European Community and to undertake one of the radical, if not the most radical, changes in modern British history? What have been the perceived advantages and disadvantages of British membership of the European Union? Why has British membership of the European Union rarely attracted a national consensus? Engaging with both academic and public debates about Britain and the European Union, this volume is essential reading for all students of British history, British politics, and European politics.

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