The Campaign for an Independent Britain (CIB) was formed in 1969 as a cross-party coalition opposed to Common Market entry in 1973. It was one of the few groups which has advocated withdrawal from what is now the European Union ever since the UK joined. It has always acted as an umbrella group for individual organisations committed to withdrawal from the EU.
The founding organisations were the Labour Euro Safeguards Campaign, Conservatives Against a Federal Europe, Campaign Against European Federalism (trade unions) and the Anti Common Market League (now called the Anti-EU league). Other organisations which currently have representatives on the CIB National Committee are The Freedom Association and the Bruges Group. CIB also co-operates with the Tax Payers’ Alliance and Save Our Sovereignty. It was also instrumental in setting up TEAM (The Alliance of Euro-critical Movements) which is the body to which many Eurosceptic groups across the European continent belong.
CIB is supported by members’ subscriptions, gifts and bequests from supporters and has an elected executive of up to 14 members. It is non-party political, non-racist and non-sectarian. While being a “broad church” of political opinion, it will not tolerate extremists and rejects affiliation by any organisation known to be motivated by anti-democratic intentions. Its Constitution states that its objective is:
“to campaign for the restoration of full national sovereignty to the UK by its withdrawal from the obligations of the Treaties of European Union and the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 as amended so that Parliament may legislate freely and the UK may co-operate with other nations as it thinks fit”
CIB was involved in the major battle which took place in the early 1970s within Parliament to keep the supremacy of our own Parliament and remain out of the Common Market. The battle was narrowly lost by 8 votes when Edward Heath took the UK into the Common Market even before the terms and conditions were revealed to MPs let alone the British public. CIB was also at the forefront of the campaign for a NO vote in the 1975 referendum to ratify the changes to the terms of UK membership negotiated by Harold Wilson. It campaigned actively during the general election of 1983 in which the Labour party manifesto promised, if elected, to withdraw from the EC in the lifetime of that Parliament. The Labour party lost, but two Labour party candidates Tony Blair and Gordon Brown won their seats for the first time under that manifesto. Tony Blair’s election address to his Sedgefield constituents read:
“We’ll negotiate a withdrawal from the EEC which has drained our natural resources and destroyed jobs”
CIB was in the forefront of the campaign to keep the pound. Pressure within the Conservative Party, in which CIB supporters played a prominent role, led to John Major obtaining an opt-out to keep Britain out of the now discredited Euro. The CIB’s “£” lapel badge was and still is worn by many prominent people.
CIB has always emphasised the advantages of a better future outside the declining and over-regulated EU with the UK free to further its own trading links with the rest of the world, in particular with the Commonwealth countries, the family of English speaking nations and other growing economies such as China and Brazil. Over the years, CIB has printed and widely distributed informative leaflets on many subjects, such as agriculture, fishing, NHS funding, Post Office closures, etc.
In November 2010 CIB produced a booklet A House Divided which asked whether Parliament can serve two masters – the Nation and the European Union. Featuring an introduction by Phillip Hollobone MP and a foreward by Lord Stoddart of Swindon, it contained a brief history of the EU from its inception as the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951. It tells of the lies and deceits perpetrated in order to gain public support, the loss of parliamentary sovereignty which has taken place since we joined the EEC (as it was) in 1973. A copy was delivered to every single member of the House of Commons and House of Lords so that the members were fully aware of the powers that they have lost.
More recent publications include Generations Betrayed – a study of the dumbing down of history teaching in our schools so that few schoolchildren are aware of our highly successful past and an independent sovereign nation and The betrayal of Britain’s fishing to the European Union, the title of which is self-explanatory.
Since CIB was formed in 1969, the political landscape has changed considerably. Indeed, 25 years later, a new party, the UK Independence Party or Ukip, was formed with withdrawal from the European Union being its primary objective. An increasing number of Conservative MPs came to favour withdrawal from the EU, along with some Democratic Unionists and a handful of Labour MPs. Following the Conservatives’ election victory in May 2015, CIB began to step up its activities in preparation for the referendum on EU membership which David Cameron promised to hold before the end of 2017.
When he announced in February 2016 that the referendum was to be held four months later – on 23rd June 2016 – CIB’s members and supporters engaged in four months’ intense campaigning, producing booklets, website articles and videos, taking part in debates, sponsoring billboards in prominent positions on main roads, answering hundreds of e-mails and phone calls, along with giving our full support to local campaign groups. The quality of our leaflets in particular was greatly appreciated.
Naturally, we were overjoyed when the result was announced on the morning of 24th June. Winning the referendum, however, isn’t the same as leaving the EU. CIB therefore has no plans to wind down until we have actually left the EU. Our focus, however, will shift from persuading all and sundry that we are better off out of the EU to working with specialists and other like-minded groups to lobby Parliament for the best possible Brexit deal in certain specific areas. We also plan to be involved in de-programming our young people, who have been indoctrinated by pro-EU literature in schools and universities. They will be the principal beneficiaries of Brexit but sadly, few of them see things this way.
In Switzerland, Thomas Minder, counsellor for Schaffhausen state, recently stated that in his country, only ‘a few lunatics’ want to join the EU now. Only when we have reached this point in the UK can CIB say that its work is finally done.