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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27 replies

  1. So hang on… All these leavers saying everyone should just accept it… When they have been moaning since 1975..??

  2. Margaret Thatcher was at least pragmatic enough to realise that to have a seat at the table you must first join the club

  3. 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.

    • Import duty is negligible on chinese goods most of the time is the transport costs that is the real barrier to trade. They need to triple the duty so EU countries can compete with the very low chinese wages. Its the average wage in china not the few random millionaires that would make a good exsport market. China has controls on money leaving the country. Why would they build a factory in the UK if they can build it in china and pay a fraction of wages compared to Europe. If we drop our wages to those of China and India then we can compete, and some tories have said as much, if that what you want its your choice.
      The UK collects import duties and they go to the treasury.
      The lat time I paid import duties on chinese crap I can’t remember, they alway cheat and reduce the value of goods on the paperwork. Why do you not know this?

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 🙂

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

  9. Leavers forget that this was the 2nd referendum, therefore we can always have a third.
    A properly organised one, with every person with a vote obliged to vote and a 60% or more needed to carry it.

  10. I voted in 1975, it was simple (You would think) think again yes or no….. NO to pulling out
    YES to pulling out
    and everyone I knew then wanted to vote out, and so it was Fiddled Under NO was some very fine print you would need to have a magnifying glass to read , the tex about no, means no to pulling out, I remember Ted Heath saying it’s a simple Yes or No vote, THAT’S WHY WE STAYED IN and now I’m a Remainer, cos we’re better off IN.

  11. I remember the 1975 referendum. There were strong debates on both sides. Enoch Powell was very eloquent. Every night there were TV debates of one type or another. And daily there were advertisements supporting kne side or the other. The arguments were reasoned. Party whips were not applied so MPs were free to campaign as their consciences dictated. Labour and Tory party members were on both sides. Two thirds voted to stay in the EEC.

    Unlike the 1976 referendum, which was Cameron vs the rest. No real pros and cons discussed. Farage et al promoting lies. The Brexit side making illegal donations. And a simple majority was allowed to ignore the 48% who voted against it.

    And then the Brexitwers say that having another vote would be undemocratic. How exactly is sticking to a flawed simple majority vote that was run in such circumstances against an earlier h
    Wo thirds majority vote in a reasonable campaign be UNDEMOCRATIC?

  12. What was voted for in 1975 isn’t what was voted for in 2015. People voted for a common market trade deal in 75. If people knew what a monster that would become at the time I think they would be on mass have voted out. They didn’t vote to have our industries stripped or being ruled by burocrats in Brussels they didn’t vote for open boarders and the free movement of every Tom dick and Harry or the mass subsidises to European elite industries or the vast amount of monetary aid and subscriptions to those in Brussels via budget payments and so the list goes on. If the knew the truth in 75 we wouldn’t even be having this brexshit bullshit.

  13. It wasn’t the EU in 1975. Is this misunderstanding due to the fact that Finland joined the EU in 1995 and therefore don’t really understand the history. The 1975 referendum was about the common market not the EU and not the single market. EU was created in 1993.

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