I have been asked by goodness knows how many Canadians for my opinion on the Brexit saga.
Myths abound and speculation is rife but people need to know the background to this, not the symptoms.
Several countries in 1969, including the U.K. and Norway, applied to join the Common Market (EU). As an aside, the U.K. and Norway applied in the mid-60s and were vetoed by the famous French hero General Charles De Gaulle, with his famous words “Non”. In 1969 the U.K. had a Labour Party in power under Mr. Harold Wilson, who was ousted by the Conservatives under Mr. Edward Heath, one of the most arrogant individuals I have ever come across. He accepted the invitation to sign up in 1972, incidentally my first full year in work. So did the PM of Norway.
At this time in the U.K. their was an internal war between the unions and the Tory government. We had power cuts, a three day working week, garbage all over the streets (piles of it) etc. The Tories refused to back down. This was the main reason that we were refused a referendum to vote on whether to join the EU or not. Norway was allowed to have a referendum in September 1972.
The results were much the same as last week. Fifty-three point five per cent No, and 46.5 per cent Yes (to join). Seventy-plus per cent turnout. Their PM resigned. PM Heath refused on the grounds that the working class did not understand economics or finance. He was a shrewd politician, but stubborn, with too much pride. He also knew that 75 per cent of the U.K. voters would have said no.
He was ousted in 1974 but took the credit for joining the EU and always thought that he would be remembered for this act. He is not. He is remembered for his party calling for a confidence vote which was to teach him a lesson in arrogance. They still wanted him as leader, but making a point.
Margaret Thatcher, who was nominated by Mr. Heath as education minister (first female ever), was nominated as one of the contenders to make it look good.
The problem was, no one was supervising the votes and ballot.
So members came in throughout the day thinking, we don’t want to give him too many votes, so casting a vote for Mrs. Thatcher who, of course, they thought would not receive many votes. It was a total embarrassment for Mr. Heath not winning the first ballot and he dropped out and never forgave or spoke to Mrs. Thatcher again.
Coming forward four decades, Mr. Cameron made a numerical simplistic mistake. Of the 75 per cent four decades ago only approximately 25 per cent had passed on (died), which still left a lot of angry people, including myself, in being denied a voter’s right to democracy. The main reason that the EU wanted us to join was because we and Norway had just discovered North Sea oil and gas and were reaping the benefits by 1973.
The Norwegians had another referendum years later and again said no. This is why Norway and Switzerland are financially so well off. As for this so-called Brexit disaster, please note stocks and shares and currencies are back up after only five working days.