- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 19, 2002

LONDON (Agence France-Presse) Britain must start to withdraw from the European Union, former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher says in a book whose serialization started yesterday in the Times.

"During my lifetime most of the problems the world has faced have come, in one fashion or another, from mainland Europe, and the solutions from outside it," says the 76-year-old "Iron Lady" in her book, "Statecraft."

"The preliminary step, I believe, should be for an incoming Conservative government to declare publicly that it seeks fundamental renegotiation of Britain's terms of EU membership," Mrs. Thatcher writes.

London should pull out of the common agricultural policy, the fisheries agreements and the common policy on security and diplomacy, and take back control of its trade.

Mrs. Thatcher, who was Conservative prime minister from 1979 to 1990, did not call for a withdrawal pure and simple from the EU, but came out in favor of a more measured approach.

This should not be as difficult as it looks, she says, since "the blunt truth is that the rest of the European Union needs us more than we need them."

"It is frequently said to be unthinkable that Britain should leave the European Union. But the avoidance of thought about this is a poor substitute for judgment."

The EU is "fundamentally unreformable," she writes, and its creation was "perhaps the greatest folly of the modern era" and Britain's participation "a political error of historic magnitude."

Mrs. Thatcher's latest radical idea will embarrass current Conservative opposition leader Iain Duncan Smith, albeit one of her fans, who has tried to calm the debate on Europe and concentrated his attacks on the government's domestic policy.

Mr. Duncan Smith, like Mrs. Thatcher, is fiercely opposed to British adoption of the single European currency, but his position on Europe is more nuanced than hers.

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