This chapter assesses British relations with the EU during the three New Labour governments led by Tony Blair (between May 1997 and June 2007) and Gordon Brown (between June 2007 and May 2010), and during the Conservative—Liberal Democrat coalition government led since May 2010 by David Cameron. The focus is mainly on relations with the EU (the ‘Britain in Europe’ theme), while Chapter 9 pays close attention to debates within and between the main parties about the EU (the ‘Europe in Britain’ theme). It could be asked whether New Labour’s 1997 landslide victory heralded a new, more positive era in Britain’s relations with the EU. Alternatively, the return to power — albeit within a coalition — of the Conservative Party could mean that Britain has moved closer to the exit. For a political system within which change tends to be slow and incremental, both positive engagement and/or exit would be radical departures. To assess these issues, it is important to consider the criteria that would be used.
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- From New Labour to the Cameron Coalition
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- Chapter 4