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Following David Cameron's long-awaited "big speech" on Europe of January 23, the Conservative press office told journalists that it went considerably further in its Euroscepticism than Mrs Thatcher's 1988 Bruges speech.

Cameron, it should be remembered, had explained his failure to live up to his "copper-bottomed guarantee" to offer a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty by explaining that a great deal of water had passed under the bridge between the time of his promise in 2007 and the 2010 election campaign. His press spokesmen appear to have forgotten the much greater volume that has passed under the bridge during the quarter of a century since Mrs Thatcher's landmark speech.

In her book Statecraft she wrote: "That such an unnecessary and irrational project as building a European superstate was ever embarked on will be seen in future years to be the greatest folly of the modern era. And that Britain, with her traditional strengths and global destiny, should ever have become part of it will appear a political error of the first magnitude."

She also correctly foresaw the present difficulties in the eurozone and identified their roots, arguing that "the single currency is bound to fail, economically, and indeed socially though the timing, occasion and full consequences are unclear." International rescue bids might be launched to preserve the euro, but these would founder because of its fundamental flaws, she concluded. 

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