The European Parliament Information Office recently hosted an event in Europe House looking back over 40 years of UK membership of the EU, and looking forward. It seems to have been a good discussion, which you can see on the hashtag #uk40.
One tweet from @EUouth quoted former UK Permanent Representative to the EU, Sir Stephen Wall:
Sir Stephen Wall 'Joining the EU was never just economic, to say it was is to ignore history. Political unity was at the heart of it' #uk40
— EUouth (@EUouth) January 11, 2013
This speaks to an important issue. There is evidence that the political dimension of membership was clear from the beginning of the discussion about the UK applying to join the EEC. This speech by Woodrow Wyatt, introducing a 10 minute bill in 1961, clearly mentions the political aspects:
An intern working here a while ago turned up in our archives a speech by Alec-Douglas-Home when he was Foreign Secretary which also spoke to the political aspects. In this speech from 1970, which was made available to the media at the time, he says:
The last point I want to make is this. There has been some questioning on the Continent of Britain’s long-term intentions. We are asked whether we accept the political implications of the Treaty of Rome. The answer is an unequivocal Yes.
He quotes George Brown talking in the Western European Union in 1967
“We believe that Europe can emerge as a Community expressing its own point of view and exercising influence in world affairs, not only in the commercial and economic, but also in the political and defence fields.”
and goes on to say
We have no reservations about the institutional framework of the Communities. Nor do we jib at the evolution of these institutions.
The emphasis is his, as you’ll see in the original, which is linked to above.
So whatever has happened between now and then, it seems pretty clear that the UK government, and by extension media, was well aware of the political implications of its application to join the EEC.
I’ve also seen a House of Lords report from around the time of accession that also talks about the political aspects and the issue of the primacy of the decisions of the European Court of Justice, again something that was there from the beginning. I can’t find that report at the moment, so if anyone can point me towards it, I’d be very grateful.