Debating Federal Europe in the British Parliament, c. 1940-1949
Haapala, T., & Häkkinen, T. (2017). Debating Federal Europe in the British Parliament, c. 1940-1949. European Review of History: Revue européenne d'histoire, 24 (5), 801-816. doi:10.1080/13507486.2017.1300137
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is a final draft version of an article whose final and definitive form has been published by Taylor & Francis. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.
Federalism, or the fear of it, worked as a catalyst in the British pre-referendum debate on Brexit in June 2016. In this paper, we focus on the pre-European integration context and ask what kind of an alternative federalism was seen to afford in British politics during and after the Second World War. We limit our discussion to parliamentary debates, which have only rarely been used as primary sources for studying European integration history. The British Parliament was one of the key political arenas for debates on foreign policy, not just in terms of informing the party lines but also guiding the public discussion. In the early part of the 1940s, the British federalist movement was able to generate political debate on the issue and gain the attention of many leading politicians. We argue that the approach to the use of the concept was politically charged but remained open to various context-based interpretations, which did not eventually lead to any concrete proposals. During the latter part of the 1940s, the majority of British MPs were open to different ways of creating unity in Europe. The emphasis on national sovereignty, however, continued. As a result ‘federalism’, attached to structures for unity, gave way to more pragmatic political solutions. ...