'Europe: 'Them' or 'Us?


Europe Them or Us
1. An Island Apart
The critical decision Britain’s voters are about to take in the referendum is the culmination of decades of agonising debate about Britain’s place in Europe, and its often lethal effect on British politics.
This programme takes viewers into the corridors of power to hear from the men and women who took the decisions which led us to where we are today. The first episode examines why British governments first shunned the new Common Market then begged to join it. It explores the decisive part played by three British prime ministers – Winston Churchill, Harold Macmillan and Edward Heath. After being humiliated by the French president Charles de Gaulle when Britain first applied to join, Heath triumphantly took the UK into the Common Market ten years later. But the seeds of today’s problems were already being sown.
The unfamiliar story – sometimes witty, sometimes poignant – emerges from a series of special interviews with Heath and two of his successors, Tony Blair and David Cameron, as well as other key British players – Roy Jenkins, Enoch Powell, Shirley Williams, Barbara Castle, Norman Tebbit, Nigel Farage and William Hague – plus the main civil servants and diplomats involved on both sides of the English Channel. Some of the interviews come from the 1996 BBC Two series The Poisoned Chalice, also produced by John Bridcut.