New Labour and the European Union: Blair and Brown's Logic of History

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This book explores Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's attempt to sell the European ideal to the British people. New Labour came to power in 1997 promising to modernize the country and make it fit for the twenty-first century. In foreign policy, Blair and Brown set about rethinking core components of the British national identity, especially the country's relationship to its past and its role in the world. Rebranding Britain, they argued, meant helping the British people feel comfortably at home in the European Union. What did New Labour achieve and did its European policy succeed? How did Blair and Brown try and persuade the British to accept a European future? What were the obstacles they faced and the strategies they used to overcome them? This timely study of New Labour's effort to build a 'pro-European consensus' in Britain argues that the government failed to live up to its early promises. Based on evidence from well over one hundred of Blair and Brown's foreign policy speeches supplemented by interviews with policy-makers, advisers and speech-writers from the time, the book is sympathetic to the challenge New Labour set itself but also critical of the rhetorical techniques it used to advance the Europeanist cause. Trapped between a broadly hostile media and an apathetic public, Blair and Brown failed to provide the necessary leadership to see Britain to a European future. Theoretically informed, empirically robust and methodologically innovative, this novel book will appeal to anyone interested in contemporary British foreign policy, the New Labour project and Euroscepticism in Britain.