John Major: Between the Party and the IGC

Kenneth Dyson and Kevin Featherstone

in The Road To Maastricht

Published in print October 1999 | ISBN: 9780198296386
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599125 | DOI:
 John Major: Between the Party and the IGC

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With the failure to delay or block the EMU initiative, Major was left to bridge the unbridgeable, caught between a divided party and European credibility. Party divisions prevented any radical shift of policy. More constructive rhetoric did not disguise essential policy continuity. Major's instincts were for pragmatism, but any scope for building alternative coalitions (e.g. with the German–Dutch bloc) were not exploited, despite compatibilities in policy belief (on monetary policy and on free markets). Thus, the end game became dominated by the technical design of an opt‐out from EMU and a weakening stage 2. The ‘victory’ on the opt‐out was somewhat hollow: not least because Britain's partners had all but given up on her. The problems of reconciling Britain's interests were graphically portrayed by its exit from the ERM in September 1992. The irony of Major's leadership was that, despite him giving priority to party unity, the Conservative Party was left in almost terminable decline and he failed to ease the constraints on his successor.

Keywords: Black Wednesday; Britain; coalition building; Conservative Party; ERM; Norman Lamont; John Major; opt‐out; policy belief; subsidiarity

Chapter.  24309 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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