Dr Lindsay Aqui, Research Fellow from the School of Humanities, hosted a virtual event which introduced her new research about the history of the British officials that worked in the European Commission between 1973 and 1986.

UK and EU flag next to eachother

In the event, on 26 January, Dr Aqui revisited the history and myths about Britain’s relationship with the European Community (EC), the predecessor to the European Union, as it developed in the 1970s and 1980s.

She revealed that many officials who went to work in the European Commission hoped that their work could help transform the UK into a more pro-European country but felt disappointed that they were unable to do so.

The research will explore their lives, and those of their families, in addition to their work in the Commission. The project will include two case-studies which are often seen as clear examples of the so-called awkward partnership: Harold Wilson’s renegotiation and Margaret Thatcher’s demand for a budget rebate.

In both cases, British officials working in Brussels had to navigate conflicting loyalties to the UK and the EC, in addition to a difficult set of circumstances created by the wide-spread perception that their home government was acting in awkward ways.

Dr Aqui joined the University of Westminster in October 2020 as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. Last year she published her first book, The First Referendum: Reassessing Britain’s Entry to Europe, 1973–75. The event was part of the History Research Seminar Series, organised by Professor Pippa Catterall.

Talking about her research, Dr Aqui said: “One of my ambitions for the project is to shine a light on a generation of British Europhiles at a time when, not wrongly, there is a lot of focus on Euroscepticism in the UK.”

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