The Council was meant to discuss the Uruguay Round on General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade which was due to end in a few months but for which the EC had not developed a policy (alone out of the trading blocs). However the Italian Prime Minister, Giulio Andreotti, decided that the Council would refuse to discuss the GATT and instead push for the final stage in European Economic and Monetary Union in an attempt to get Thatcher to either agree or to force her to say “No” and thereby bring about her downfall by Europhile members of her party. Thatcher’s hostility to a federal Europe led to Geoffrey Howe resigning from the Government on 1 November and to his fellow federalist Michael Heseltine’s bid for the Tory leadership which brought down Thatcher on 22 November.
As Howe later said:
“I wanted to change the policies, not the leader. But if that meant the leader had to go, then so it had to be”. After the Rome Council a French official was asked whether it had failed. He answered: “On the contrary, the Council had been an outstanding success, since it had re-established an eleven-to-one situation in the Community and destabilised Thatcher at home”.
Includes Eurosceptic interventions by Norman Tebbit (Con.), David Owen (Ind.), Ron Leighton (Lab.), Tony Favell (Con.), and Tony Benn (Lab.).