Sked: That it would certainly be in British interests, because we would be a free country again, be able to trade freely with the rest of the world and make our own free-trade pacts—and we’d make a free-trade deal with Europe quite quickly, I think. We could look forward to all sorts of advantages. But America could look forward to having a reliable ally that would still be very influential in Europe, but wouldn’t be outvoted by states that are not necessarily pro-American.
I think if Britain came out, she might want to join NAFTA or something, which would be both an interest of Britain and the United States. NAFTA doesn’t have any political supranationalism in it. Canada and Mexico remain free, sovereign countries; so does America. So why couldn’t we open up world trade by having Britain join America, Canada, and Mexico in NAFTA? And Britain could have free-trade deals with India, China, and all sorts of places. That would bring America and Britain even closer together, and Britain would remain America’s closest NATO ally.
Delman: Do you think that it’s at all hypocritical of the U.S. government to be opposed to a British exit, given that it is in some ways a quest for self-sovereignty and national self-determination?
Sked: It’s hypocritical, but I think it’s a lack of understanding rather than anything else. My understanding is always that the Americans view, as I said, Britain and Europe as part of a process that repeats their process in 1776—all the colonies getting together and forming a federal union. I think this image is embedded in the American diplomatic mentality. You must remember, it was the Americans after [World War II] who were the greatest proponents of European unity. The Marshall Plan was predicated on the belief that, in return for the Marshall funds, Europe would unite and form a United States of Europe. American diplomats were all hand-in-glove with [the French official] Jean Monnet and his action committee for his United States of Europe, and the CIA was pouring millions into the European movement in the late ’40s and ’50s to try and bring about a United States of Europe. John Foster Dulles, who became Eisenhower’s secretary of state, was [secretary] of the American Committee for United Europe.
[Following World War II], the European movement is funded largely by America, and the American policy-making elite and media elite are all behind it, and the people who stop it are the British. The British, they just say, “No, we’ve won the war. We’re independent. What the hell do you want us to get into bed with all these ex-fascists and Nazis and everything, and these people [who] don’t know about parliamentary democracy. We’re not doing it.” And Marshall actually buggers up the whole thing because when he goes to Harvard and makes this speech that starts the Marshall Plan, he says, “If the Europeans get together and tell us what they want, we’ll be happy to oblige.” Instead of imposing conditions, he says the Europeans should do it. So the British then organize the start of the Marshall Plan, but make sure it’s not federalist. They make sure the body is an intergovernmental body in Europe that does all this, and the Americans can’t therefore impose federalism on Europe right from the start in return for American Marshall funds. And the American State Department has continued from there, post-’45, always to be kind of a stepmother to the European Union.