The European controversy in the Conservative party 1988-1994
The thesis will focus on the divisions which emerged within the Conservative parliamentary party after the acceleration of European integration in the late 1980s. The thesis uses an analytical typology to show how the conflict over European integration led to a realignment of the Conservative parliamentary party and a split within the Thatcherite grouping. This typology is developed as a result of identifying the key ideological dynamics at work in the European dispute. These dynamics have given birth to distinct groupings within the party: - Thatcherite Nationalists, Neo-Liberal Integrationists and Interventionist Integrationists. A key factor in the Thatcherite Nationalists' hostility to Europe is the centrality of nationhood in the Conservative ideological tradition. From the late nineteenth century onwards, Tory leaders used nationhood as the basis for their party's survival in industrial Britain. The key aspect of nationhood ideology is the emphasis placed by Tory leaders on Britain's global ambition and identity. The Tory European groupings are divided on the question of whether Britain. should pursue an Atlanticist or Europeanist foreign policy. The thesis will show that foreign policy developments over the last forty years have widened the divide between the Tory groupings on this issue. The Thatcherite Nationalists' hostility to European integration intensified once the integrationist dynamics within the European Union became apparent. These dynamics were incompatible with the concept of a Europe of free trading nation states. The Nationalists became committed to reversing these integrationist developments. The Thatcherite Nationalists and the Neo-Liberal Integrationists differ fundamentally on the issue of the single currency. The Nationalists believe that monetary union can never command popular legitimacy. The Integrationists argue that monetary union is a more effective means of attaining traditional Thatcherite objectives of price stability and sound finance.