General de Gaulle was chair of the provisional government after the liberation led the French Resistance during World War 2, and was the President from 1959-1969. When the EEC was formed with the Treaty of Rome in March 1957 with the first six members — France, Italy, the Netherlands, West Germany the UK was absent.
When Edward Heath successfully negotiated the UK’s entry to the EEC in 1972, the Queen’s Christmas message recognized the concern across the country that the government was picking Europe over the Commonwealth.
Britain first began talks to join in July 1961, but its application was vetoed by General de Gaulle once in 1967 and after in 1963.
Mr Benn blamed the bloc to the increase in food costs, warning in a leaflet:”The price of butter has to be nearly doubled by 1978 when we remain in.”
It claimed that the EEC, through the Common Agricultural Policy, forced Britain to buy food from other member countries, effectively banning the import of inexpensive butter from New Zealand.
General de Gaulle, whose words reflect people in the UK who prefer a nation outside the EU where it could control its own laws and economy, insisted that Britain was separate in”nature, structure and the very situation”.
General de Gaulle also argued that the UK would be”isolated” within the EEC’s”costly regime”.
It read:”Compared with the motives that led the six [founder states ] to organise their apparatus, we know for what reasons, why Britain — who is not continental, who remains, due to the Commonwealth and because she is an island, dedicated far beyond the seas, who’s tied to america by all kinds of special agreements — did not merge into a Neighborhood with set dimensions and set rules.”
These comments came around six months before he denied the UK’s application for a second time, dashing the hopes of then-Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
Mr Benn said during a discussion with Labour MP Roy Jenkins:”We’ve butter mountains and beef mountains since the Common Agricultural Policy was developed to benefit from French and if you read de Gaulle’s famous veto speech, he stated the CAP are a crushing burden on the British economy.”
The then-French President believed that a pan-European project wasn’t a good fit for the UK, citing facets of the market he saw as”incompatible with Europe”.
The war verteran wrote:”Britain nourishes herself, to a great extent, on food-stuffs bought inexpensively throughout the world and, particularly, in the Commonwealth.
“If she awakens to the rules of the six, then her balance of payments will be crushed by’levies’ and on the other hand, she would then be forced to increase the price of her food to the cost level adopted by the nearby countries, consequently to increase the wages of her workers and, thereby to sell her products all the more in a higher cost and with more difficulty.”
Indeed, when the UK eventually joined the EEC in 1973, the price of butter dropped almost overnight and nearly quadrupled in the first five years, according to the BBC in 2016.
He added that, because of the UK’s relationship with the Commonwealth, it benefited from inexpensive imports and might be”forced to raise the price of her food” if the country”submitted” to the rules consumed by the original founders.
He asked:”How can it not seen the situation of the pound sterling prevents the frequent Market from incorporating Britain?”
This made him opposed from a standpoint, but he also pointed out that it wouldn’t be beneficial to Britain, record a series of potential issues that concerns will be recognised as by Brexiteers today.
“The new links with Europe won’t replace those with the Commonwealth; they won’t alter our historical and personal attachments with kinsmen and friends overseas.
She told the nation:”Britain is going to join her neighbours in the European Community and you may well ask how this will impact the Commonwealth.
The monarch, as head of the Commonwealth, sought to reassure the public that the relationship wouldn’t replace the old, but the UK would bring Commonwealth hyperlinks.
Even though it is debated whether the EEC was entirely to blame for the increase in food prices, the correlation is compelling.