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Britain’s relationship with the EU in quotes from our political leaders

At 11pm this evening, we will leave the European Union after 47 years and 30 days of membership. Harry Mount recalls the greatest quotes in our EU history…

‘We must build a kind of United States of Europe. In this way only will hundreds of millions of toilers be able to regain the simple joys and hopes which make life worth living.’

Winston Churchill, September 19, 1946, at the University of Zurich

‘Messieurs, I have to tell you that the future Treaty [of Rome, establishing the European Economic Community] which you are discussing a) has no chance of being agreed; b) if it were agreed, it would have no chance of being ratified; c) if it were ratified, it would have no chance of being applied. And please note that, if it were applied, it would be totally unacceptable to Britain… monsieur le president, messieurs, au revoir et bonne chance.’

British civil servant Russell Bretherton at the Messina conference of 1955. The EEC was born three years later

‘We must build a kind of United States of Europe. In this way only will hundreds of millions of toilers be able to regain the simple joys and hopes which make life worth living,’ said Sir Winston Churchill in September 1946

‘There are some in this country who fear that in going into Europe we shall in some way sacrifice independence and sovereignty, even that we shall begin to lose our national identity. These fears, I need hardly say, are completely unjustified and exaggerated.’

PM Edward Heath, 1971. Britain joined the EEC on January 1, 1973

‘We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them re-imposed at a European level with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels.’

Margaret Thatcher at the College of Europe in Bruges, 1988

'We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them re-imposed at a European level with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels' - Margaret Thatcher at the College of Europe in Bruges, 1988

‘We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them re-imposed at a European level with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels’ – Margaret Thatcher at the College of Europe in Bruges, 1988

‘The verdict has been given by a vote with a bigger majority than has been received by any government in any general election. Nobody… should have any doubt about its meaning.’

PM Harold Wilson after Britain voted to remain in the EEC in 1975

‘Look, I’m rather pro-European, actually. I certainly want a European community where one can go off and scoff croissants, drink delicious coffee, learn foreign languages and generally make love to foreign women.’

Boris Johnson on the EU, during his failed first bid for Parliament, 1997

‘So long as this country remains a member of the European Union, then the laws of this country are subject to the doctrine of the primacy of community law… this country has joined this European club and by so doing has agreed to be bound by the rules and regulations of the club.’

'Look, I'm rather pro-European, actually. I certainly want a European community where one can go off and scoff croissants, drink delicious coffee, learn foreign languages and generally make love to foreign women' - Boris Johnson on the EU, during his failed first bid for Parliament, 1997

‘Look, I’m rather pro-European, actually. I certainly want a European community where one can go off and scoff croissants, drink delicious coffee, learn foreign languages and generally make love to foreign women’ – Boris Johnson on the EU, during his failed first bid for Parliament, 1997

The 2001 magistrate verdict on greengrocer Steve Thoburn, convicted under EU law for not selling fruit in metric measures

‘I am in favour of a referendum. I believe in confronting this issue – shaping it, leading the debate. Not simply hoping a difficult situation will go away.’

Mr Cameron, now PM, on January 23, 2013. He promised a referendum if the Tories won a majority at the next election, which they did in 2015

‘Brexit is stupidity for a country with 53 percent of its exports going to the Continent and to the rest of Europe. It’s even so stupid that Britain’s best friends, the US, don’t understand it.’

Guy Verhofstadt, January 2013

'A bunch of fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists' - what David Cameron called Ukip in April 2006

‘A bunch of fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists’ – what David Cameron called Ukip in April 2006

Brexit will be ‘crushed like the toad beneath the harrow’.

Mr Johnson’s text to Mr Cameron, February 2016, just before Mr Johnson came out for… Brexit

‘A bunch of fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists.’ 

What David Cameron called Ukip in April 2006 

‘A vote to leave is the gamble of the century. It would be our children’s futures on the table if we were to roll the dice.’

Mr Cameron, February 2016

‘Knickers to the pessimists!’

Mr Johnson at the David Nieper womenswear factory in Alfreton, Derbyshire, May 2016

‘It’s absolutely crazy that the EU is telling us how powerful our vacuum cleaners have got to be, what shape our bananas have got to be, and all that kind of thing.’

'It's fair to say that maybe some point down the line there might be a UK-US trade agreement, but it's not going to happen any time soon because our focus is in negotiating with a big bloc, the European Union, to get a trade agreement done... the UK is going to be in the back of the queue' - President Obama in Downing Street, April 2016

‘It’s fair to say that maybe some point down the line there might be a UK-US trade agreement, but it’s not going to happen any time soon because our focus is in negotiating with a big bloc, the European Union, to get a trade agreement done… the UK is going to be in the back of the queue’ – President Obama in Downing Street, April 2016

Mr Johnson campaigning to Leave in May 2016

‘Let June 23 go down in our history as our independence day.’

Nigel Farage, 4am on June 24, 2016

‘Brexit means Brexit and we’re going to make a success of it.’

Theresa May while candidate for Conservative leader, July 11, 2016

‘It’s fair to say that maybe some point down the line there might be a UK-US trade agreement, but it’s not going to happen any time soon because our focus is in negotiating with a big bloc, the European Union, to get a trade agreement done… the UK is going to be in the back of the queue.’

President Obama in Downing Street, April 2016.

‘I think Brexit is going to be a great thing. I thought the UK was so smart in getting out.’

President Trump, January 2017

‘Get Brexit done.’

Mr Johnson’s mantra before the 2019 election – which he won by a landslide

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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