How the Iron Lady drew up the original blueprint for a Brexit
Published 02/12/2015 | 02:30
As a 21-year-old student, I stood in the Great Hall, Bruges, in September of 1988. I was at university there. Along with 10 other Irish students, I was a postgraduate at the College of Europe. The College of Europe is the West Point or Sandhurst of the EU. It is charged with training the next generation of European officials and, indeed, most of the friends I made there have become senior apparatchiks in the European bureaucracy.
Back then, Margaret Thatcher represented everything that was wrong with politics for us. Her policies had framed our political consciousness, not only in Ireland, but in England too. We had all worked during our summers in London. England was our closest neighbour. It was the source of our music, our culture and our worldview. We listened to the anti-Thatcher lyrics of The Specials, Elvis Costello and The Smiths. She was the enemy and her thinly disguised anti-Irish rhetoric infuriated us. Quite apart from popular culture, we had our views on the miners' strikes, the City, the North and the "loads of money" culture in the south of England.
Mrs Thatcher was also anti-European and this, to us, the foot soldiers of the European movement, was also unforgivable.