Salvu Felice Pace (April 18) is correct in saying that the British people have kept their sense of identity in spite of EU membership. The French people kept their sense of identity too. As the author Frederick Forsyth, pointed out - they were just as French in 1941 as they had been in 1939. The difference was not one of national identity but of political control. The same is true under the EU dispensation.

Malta is indeed fortunate to have an open debate on EU membership - even if the resources of the two sides are grossly unequal. The late Sir Isaiah Berlin, a philosopher with a great love of liberal democracy, said that no modern government could lose a referendum if it used the resources of the state to campaign for the answer it wanted. In Britain there has never been an honest debate.

As long ago as 1947, Peter Thorneycroft (later chairman of the Conservative Party) frankly admitted that no government could get a democratic mandate for the European project, if it put the issues openly. He concluded, "The British people must be led slowly and unconsciously to the abandonment of their traditional economic defences. They must not be asked."

State papers released under the 30-year rule now show the degree of duplicity and deceit which has been practised on the British people ever since. One paper (Ref: FCO 30/1048) from 1971 contains this gem. "After entry there would be a major responsibility on Her Majesty`s government and on all political parties not to exacerbate public concern by attributing unpopular measures to the remote and unmanageable workings of the Community (now the EU)... The difference between... explaining policy in terms of general and Community wide interest and... blaming membership for national problems is real and important."

Our fishermen, miners, shipbuilders, textile workers, farmers and many others know the problems well enough but the government could not be honest about where they came from.

There have been passionate debates in the House of Commons on matters ranging from the establishment of Railtrack, the Private Finance Initiative in public services, to the imposition of value added tax on domestic fuel. Every MP present must have known that the debates and their outcomes were wholly and solely dictated by our subjection to the policies of the EU. People have now woken up to the fact that their parliament has become a pretence and a sham.

If that is what the Maltese people want, then well and good. Having fallen into the trap ourselves, it would be pretty rotten to let others take the same path in ignorance.

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