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Downers Stradling the EU Entry and British Exit

by Oui Mon Jan 1st, 2018 at 05:59:25 PM EST

From my diary - Papadopoulos and Australian Spy Chief in a London Bar.

Australia was wounded when Britain joined the EU. Now we can make things right - as partners  By Alex Downer

I am not the first member of my family to serve as Australian High Commissioner to the UK. My father held the position between 1964 and 1972. You will understand the significance of that period.

For the past few years of his posting my father argued, sometimes acrimoniously, with the British government about the damage the UK's terms of accession to the EEC - as it was then called - would do to Australia.

Over four decades later I am talking somewhat more amiably with Whitehall about the consequences for Australia of Britain's departure from the EU. So there you have it. Britain's adventure in the EU has been bookended by the Downer family.

Let's be frank. (We Australians do frank quite well.) My father's generation was deeply hostile to Britain abandoning those Commonwealth countries [pdf] which had stood by her in her darkest hour.

In two world wars, New Zealand, Australia and Canada - with India, South Africa and other members of the then Empire - sent thousands upon thousands of troops, airmen and sailors to help save Britain from the Germans.

And during the Second World War, following the fall of Hong Kong and Singapore in 1941, we Australians also had to deal with the Japanese on our doorstep.

Despite this sacrifice, the attitude of the Heath government in the Seventies was "So what?" Government is about the national interest, not emotion. Britain had to make its future in Europe and we could make our futures somewhere else.  

Further reading ...

A journey into Downer's dark past


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