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Was the Macmillan government's decision to apply for membership of the European Communities the product of Britain's declining global status?

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  1. The application for membership and the decline of Britain's power
  2. The Suez Crisis which: its crucial significance on the erosion of relations with the Commonwealth and the USA
  3. Economical aspects
  4. Success of the EEC compared to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA): consequences of decolonisation
  5. Parties' strategies and the change in attitude towards sovereignty
  6. The situation of post-war Britain and the Britain of the 1960s

The fear that Britain would become, as Labour's post-war Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin put it "just another European country" , was one of the main reasons to explain the British refusal to join a European supranational organisation. The Attlee government was indeed in favour of cooperation amongst Western European countries but did not want to be one of them . The view of the Foreign Office was that 'Great Britain must be viewed as a world power of the second rank and not merely as a unit of a federated Europe'. In fact, in 1945, Britain was in a mood of triumph. It had won the war and was relatively intact. It was the only European country to have successfully defied Hitler for more than five years. It considered itself a great power, the centre of Commonwealth and an Empire covering one-fifth of the globe, and an equal of the Soviet Union and the United States of America. The British media even proudly referred to the United Kingdom as one of the Big Three, and this was confirmed by Article 23 of the United Nations Charter which named Britain as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council.

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