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University 18 Yrs + | Post Second World War Consensus

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Post-War Consensus – Building on Britain’s place in the World

Britain at this time was seen to be significant internationally.

This was due to being on the winning side of the war and attending peace conferences, having an empire and the relationship she held with the United States as part of the ‘ Special Relationship’.

Britain pursued policies to extend her influence and it was on this base that consensus politics developed at home.


  • Getting closer to Europe – Early European Integration continued without the British. Britain failed to join the EEC in 1963 due to a veto by French President Charles de Gaulle. President de Gaulle, twice blocked Britain’s application to become a member of the European Economic Community (EEC). When de Gaulle left power in 1969 Britain took the opportunity to apply once again to join the EEC also known as ‘The Common Market.’ Prime Minister Edward Heath, elected in 1970, presided over Britain’s accession to the “Common Market” on 1 January 1973. Heath’s 1970 conservative party manifesto stated it would be in Britain’s long-term interest to join the EEC ‘if we can negotiate the right terms’ in spite of ‘short-term disadvantages’. Harold Wilson became Prime Minister again in 1974. Wilson’s previous application to join the EEC in 1967 had been rejected. Wilson now promised a referendum on remaining in the EEC on renegotiated terms. The referendum took place in June 1975. There was roughly a 2-1 result in favour of remaining on new terms.
  • The Commonwealth was created and countries such as India were granted independence in 1947 but were still used strategically by Britain often for military bases
  • The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was created in 1949. Existing today, this was primarily a mutual defence agreement between the United States of America, Great Britain, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and six other European countries to help each other if faced with aggression from, at that time, the Soviet Union.