Despite having campaigned to stay in the European Economic Community (EEC) – the precursor to the EU – former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is now often portrayed as a “spiritual mother” of euroscepticism. She passionately fought and won a number of battles against what she saw as the excessive powers of Brussels. In 1984, she negotiated a British rebate on contributions to the EEC in what has long been considered one of the Iron Lady’s finest victories.
Despite her anti-EU stance, according to Lord David Owen, it was one of Baroness Thatcher’s key decisions that ultimately tied Britain to the EU.
In an interview with Express.co.uk, the former Foreign Secretary and SDP leader argued that the former Prime Minister should have listened to her then-Chancellor Nigel Lawson before signing the Single European Act.
He explained: "Nigel Lawson is a significant figure.
"He wrote to Margaret Thatcher twice in 1986 warning her not to allow the use of the term 'monetary', which was very significant in the Single European Act.
Lord David Owen reveals brilliant alternative for House of Lords in post-Brexit Britain (Image: GETTY)
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Image: GETTY)
"He deserves great praise for this.
"Thatcher should have said no, and she realised this later.
"We should have said no to the monetary system, because if we had, then we could have easily vetoed Maastricht."
The Brexiteer noted: "But having gone on and on with that language, it was much harder to block Maastricht.
"Particularly when Kohl was so accommodating giving us the opt outs."
The Single European Act (SEA) was the first major revision of the 1957 Treaty of Rome.
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Former Chancellor Nigel Lawson (Image: GETTY)