Colleen Terrans 18 and Dawn Miller 21 riding on the bonnet of the leading car of the South Glamorgan campaign to Keep Britain in Europe.

14 incredible photos of Britain’s 1975 vote to stay in the EU

Back in 1975, Britons had their first chance to ditch membership in a European Economic Union in favour of an isolationist policy in an already international world. Sane heads prevailed in this first-ever national referendum and 67% of the votes were for remaining in the Economic Zone.

Staying in the EEC was no obvious choice for the then ruling Labour minority government. Concerns over the EEC included the price of wood within the EEC as opposed to trade within the Commonwealth, the government’s ability to sovereignly practice “socialist” politics et cetera. The whole process is very much worth a read on Wikipedia.

However, let’s take a couple minutes for a photographic look back at the political season leading up to the 1975 referendum.

 

UK European Communities Membership Referendum, 1975, also known as the Common Market referendum, was held on 5th June 1975, to gauge support for the country's continued membership of the European Economic Community. Our Picture Shows, Referendum Day, 5th June 1975. Mrs Anna Williams aged 102, personally delivers her Yes Vote to Swansea's referendum returning officer. (Newscom TagID: mrpphotos352008.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

UK European Communities Membership Referendum, 1975, also known as the Common Market referendum, was held on 5th June 1975, to gauge support for the country’s continued membership of the European Economic Community. Our Picture Shows, Referendum Day, 5th June 1975. Mrs Anna Williams aged 102, personally delivers her Yes Vote to Swansea’s referendum returning officer.

Margaret Thatcher, sporting a sweater bearing the flags of European nations, in Parliament Square during her 'Yes to Europe' campaign.

Margaret Thatcher, sporting a sweater bearing the flags of European nations, in Parliament Square during her ‘Yes to Europe’ campaign.




 

MPs at Westminster rehearsing their song Nine Nein Nein. Guess which side they were on?

MPs at Westminster rehearsing their song Nine Nein Nein. Guess which side they were on?

 

Beverley Pilkington, 22 year old model from Essex, wearing Pro Europe white tee shirt with the slogan, Europe or bust? 19th May 1975. Pictured ahead of referendum (5th June 1975) to gauge support for the country's continued membership of the European Economic Community. (Newscom TagID: mrpphotos351852.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

Beverley Pilkington, 22 year old model from Essex, wearing Pro Europe white tee shirt with the slogan, Europe or bust? 19th May 1975. Pictured ahead of referendum (5th June 1975) to gauge support for the country’s continued membership of the European Economic Community.

 

Social Services secretary, Mrs Barbara Castle, left, her seven year old great-niece Rachel Hilton and Mrs Joan Marten, wife of Neil Martin, Chairman of the anti-Common Marketeers (unseen) display goods they brought in London and Brussels with their retrospective prices for comparison during a press conference at the Waldorf Hotel in London, England on May 29, 1975. Mrs. Castle is one of the Labour Party's anti-marketeers. (AP Photo/Peter Kemp)

Social Services secretary, Mrs Barbara Castle, left, her seven year old great-niece Rachel Hilton and Mrs Joan Marten, wife of Neil Martin, Chairman of the anti-Common Marketeers (unseen) display goods they brought in London and Brussels with their retrospective prices for comparison during a press conference at the Waldorf Hotel in London, England on May 29, 1975. Mrs. Castle is one of the Labour Party’s anti-marketeers.

 

Oct. 10, 1971 - ALL-WOMEN'S CONFERENCE ON THE COMMON MARKET: An All-Women's Conference on the Common Market, is being held today at Central Hall, Westminster. The conference is arranged by the London Europe Society in co-operation with the leading Women's Organization in Britain, all of which are represented by some of their principal officers. Keystone Photo Shows:- Mrs. Barbara Fellows, of South Kensington, shows her disapproval of joining the Common Market with stickers on her handbag and on her hat. (Credit Image: © Keystone Pictures USA/ZUMAPRESS.com) (Newscom TagID: zumaglobalfour179306.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

Oct. 10, 1971: Mrs. Barbara Fellows, of South Kensington, shows her disapproval of joining the Common Market with stickers on her handbag and on her hat.

 

LREM Eric Littlehales, of Oswestry, Salop, ponders arguments for and against in the forthcoming National Referendum on the Common Market during a courtesy visit by HMS Fearless to Stockholm.

LREM Eric Littlehales, of Oswestry, Salop, ponders arguments for and against in the forthcoming National Referendum on the Common Market during a courtesy visit by HMS Fearless to Stockholm.




 

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Chris Barham/ANL/REX/Shutterstock (1390353a) Racing Royal Ascot Fashions - 1973 - Horse Racing - Hat Fashions - First Day Mrs Gertrude Shilling Who Has Amused Race Goers With Her Absurd Hats For Years Cartwheeled Into A Common Market Theme. Racing Royal Ascot Fashions - 1973 - Horse Racing - Hat Fashions - First Day Mrs Gertrude Shilling Who Has Amused Race Goers With Her Absurd Hats For Years Cartwheeled Into A Common Market Theme.

1973 photo of Mrs Gertrude Shilling, known for absurd hats. Shilling presents herself at a race track wearing a pro Common Markets message.

 

UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 18: Demonstration When President Pompidou And British Prime Minister Edward Heath Arrived To Meet In The Latter'S Cottage In Chequers. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

1972 demonstration at meeting of French President Pompidou and British Prime Minister Edward Heath at the latter cottage in Chequers.

 

Colleen Terrans 18 and Dawn Miller 21 riding on the bonnet of the leading car of the South Glamorgan campaign to Keep Britain in Europe.

Two young women riding on the car of the South Glamorgan campaign to Keep Britain in Europe.




 

Anti-Europe MP Tony Benn speaking at Get Britain Out rally, Sophia Gardens Pavilion, Cardiff, June 3, 1975.

Anti-Europe MP Tony Benn speaking at Get Britain Out rally, Sophia Gardens Pavilion, Cardiff, June 3, 1975.

 

13th October 1971: English Conservative politician, (John) Enoch Powell (1912 - 1998 ) with his wife as he signs copies of his book 'Common Market - The Case Against' during the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

13th October 1971: English Conservative politician, (John) Enoch Powell with his wife as he signs copies of his book ‘Common Market – The Case Against’ during the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton.

 

6th June 1975: Votes in the Common Market Referendum being counted at Earl's Court Exhibition Centre, London.

6th June 1975: Votes in the Common Market Referendum being counted at Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre, London.

 

On 1 January 1973, after decades of discussion and frustration, the United Kingdom became a full member of the European Economic Community (the Common Market). 1971 was a year of much discussion and consultation. Party members, Opposition and public all had many questions about what EEC membership would mean for UK. The UK did not hold a public vote on the EU until 1975. PICTURED: An old lady expresses the common fear that Britain will lose her greatness once she joins EEC. Her Hat sayd it all.

An old lady expresses the common fear that Britain will lose her greatness once she joins EEC.

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17 replies
  1. baptista77
    baptista77 says:

    he world is a very, very different place than it was in 1975. Look how the asian countries have grown! There are around 2,500,000 Millionaires in China and correct me if I am wrong but any goods coming to our shores from China is taxed heavily bu the E.U. As the GBP falls to even lower levels i can see lots of these asian countries wanting to set up factories in the UK.

    Reply
  2. Trombone
    Trombone says:

    The 2nd? Really? Forgotten that it was Thatcher who signed the Single European Act in ’86 which finally gave the European Parliament real power and effectively created the EU? Thatcher was always pro-european, that’s why the tories waited with the referendum until after her death. Their luck that Churchill was long dead since he wanted to create a United States of Europe.

    Reply
  3. joshkutch
    joshkutch says:

    she and heath were closer than she liked to admit even though her critics said she treated him badly and joining the EU was heath’s baby. I do remember the UK taking full advantage of membership and goods previously in the luxury class came within most people’s grasp. It did take us out of the doldrums.

    Reply
  4. neilq
    neilq says:

    Shame, the UK went on become one privileged country in the future EU, where others would see it as a guiding light for fairness, development and growth. Only to throw it all away.

    Reply
  5. Jack Walker
    Jack Walker says:

    Wonderful and inspiring photos, if only UK were so open, broad-minded and straight forward now but with trashy rhetoric rag such as The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Express and the amount of full-time online knuckle dragging ‘Britain for British’ bimbos around along with media giving too much coverage to non-Westminster parties such as UKIP + BNP it seems all hope is gone, I had conversations with several elders about referendum all whom voted remain and explained we were desperate to join EEC after many British colonies declared independence and how bad they felt being part of the older generation who stole the futures of younger people, depressing as it sounds but maybe in the future… UK will rejoin European unions/communities and learn from our previous mistake, I kinda see it like the original Star Wars trilogy 🙂

    Reply
  6. Usoften
    Usoften says:

    Margaret Thatcher was a very uncaring but very smart woman. She knew the UK was better off in. Her party has learnt nothing.

    Reply

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