Britain, the common agricultural policy and the challenges of membership in the European Community: A political balancing act

Seidel, K. 2020. Britain, the common agricultural policy and the challenges of membership in the European Community: A political balancing act. Contemporary British History. 34 (2), pp. 179-203. https://doi.org/10.1080/13619462.2019.1650739

TitleBritain, the common agricultural policy and the challenges of membership in the European Community: A political balancing act
TypeJournal article
AuthorsSeidel, K.
Abstract

When the United Kingdom joined the European Community (EC) in January 1973 it did not simply join a ‘common market’ for industrial goods, it joined a Community with a fully developed protectionist common agricultural policy (CAP). The policy encompassed up to ninety percent of the EC budget to which Britain was due to become a net contributor at the end of the transition period in 1979. This article will analyse Britain’s tempestuous relationship with the CAP from the country’s accession to the end of the Labour government in 1979. Following accession, the country’s relationship with the EC became increasingly awkward as Labour leaders Harold Wilson and James Callaghan prioritised policies and favoured behaviour they deemed conducive to maintaining the unity of the Labour party. The perceived disadvantages of the CAP for Britain gave politicians additional justification for adopting a confrontational attitude towards the EC. The CAP, the article argues, can serve as a lens to shed light on the wider question of how Britain’s leading politicians adapted to Community membership politically, tactically and psychologically.

KeywordsUnited Kingdom, Labour party, European Community, common agricultural policy, 1970s
JournalContemporary British History
Journal citation34 (2), pp. 179-203
ISSN1361-9462
Year2020
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Accepted author manuscript
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/13619462.2019.1650739
Web address (URL)https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/UEH7PJJTKCF3IYR4IJWI/full?target=10.1080/13619462.2019.1650739
Publication dates
Published17 Aug 2019
Published in print2020

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