chapter  III
17 Pages

The European Communities: Political Unity and British Interests

It is not a popular view today, perhaps, but the future historian might well have to admit that the most dramatic and decisive realignments of British policy since the Second World War were taken by Mr Macmillan's government between 1959 and 1963. It was Macmillan who led the Conservative Party away from what remained ofits imperial posture to accept the notion of an independent Commonwealth and pointed it towards the movement for unity in Western Europe as a new base for its ambitions for Britain's security and prestige. That government also led a departure in economic policy towards conscious acceptance by government of responsibility for some sort of positive management of the economy as a means of maintaining domestic living standards. The changes were related, first, because the reassessment of economic policy which took place in the early 1960s borrowed freely from Continental European experience, and, secondly, because membership of the European Common Market was considered vital to national economic goals.