Tony Blair branded as “bizarre” the reasons eurosceptics within the Conservative Party have used to promote the Brexit cause. The former Labour Prime Minister suggested trade arrangements his predecessor Margaret Thatcher made with the European Union had sparked discontent toward the bloc. Speaking to Michael Portillo in his documentary series The Trouble With the Tories, Mr Blair said: “One of the most bizarre aspects of the debate in the Conservative Party today is that at the heart of the Eurosceptic case is that we are not in control of our own laws because of the single market.
Mr Osborne told Michael Portillo: “It’s all about who can be the toughest on Europe when remember, it was one of our great Conservative leaders – not least Margaret Thatcher – who did the most to cement our place in the European Union.”
While Mrs Thatcher campaigned in support of Britain becoming an EU member, relations with Brussels soured exponentially after she became Prime Minister.
In a fiery speech delivered to the College of Europe in 1988, the Prime Minister criticised the “new priorities” the EU had begun to display and warned against the introduction of collectivism, corporatism and a single currency.
Mrs Thatcher urged the bloc to steer away from plans that could turn the European project into a “superstate exercising a new dominance from Brussels.”
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Mrs Thatcher continued: “Indeed, it is ironic that just when those countries such as the Soviet Union, which have tried to run everything from the centre, are learning that success depends on dispersing power and decisions away from the centre, there are some in the community who seem to want to move in the opposite direction.
“We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them reimposed at a European level with a European superstate exercising a new dominance from Brussels.
“Certainly we want to see Europe more united and with a greater sense of common purpose.
“But it must be in a way which preserves the different traditions, parliamentary powers and sense of national pride in one’s own country: for these have been the source of Europe’s vitality through the centuries.”