The Worm in the Apple

Christopher Tugendhat

‘Christopher Tugendhat, in this level-headed account, is right to conclude that the history of the Conservative party in the past 60 or 70 years has been deeply affected by the biography of movement for the European Union.’

‘This is a remarkable book. Elegantly written, it offers a masterclass in how to disagree agreeably.’
House Magazine


‘The switch of Conservative Party opinion on Europe was of profound and enduring significance to the UK and the EU. At the heart of this absorbing narrative of how and why it happened is a superb insider’s account of a critical moment in the story and one of the great might-have-beens of British history if Margaret Thatcher had been treated differently by the big figures in Europe after 1979.’
Peter Hennessy

‘Britain has ‘left’ and re-joined Europe a dozen times over the past two thousand years. The latest round has been among the bitterest. Tugendhat’s survey is a masterful injection of sanity into this timeless argument.’
Simon Jenkins

‘50 years ago Parliament passed the bill that took us into the EEC. Christopher Tugendhat, a strong supporter of European unity, has written a fascinating and remarkably detached account of how Britain came to reverse that decision. His analysis of the political mistakes that made this outcome increasingly probable, beginning with the government’s failure at the outset to be frank about the implications of membership, go to the heart of the matter.’
Norman Lamont

‘Europe has been a poisoned chalice for the Conservatives. Six of the last seven Conservative Prime Ministers have been ruined by it. Few could be better qualified to explain the reasons why than Christopher Tugendhat. The Worm in the Apple is a contribution to understanding of the first importance. It will fascinate everyone who enjoys the world of politics.’
Vernon Bogdanor

‘a crisp, thought-provoking and highly readable book which deserves a wide audience’
Laburnum Consulting

The Conservative Party have been in power for 47 of the 65 years since the end of the Second World War. During that time the division within the party over Europe has been the enduring drama of British politics – from Churchill’s decision not to join the original European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 to Cameron’s decision to hold an In/Out referendum in 2016. Other leaders came and went, but the issue was always there — sometimes centre-stage, at others behind the scenes — destabilising foreign policy, corroding the body politic, and destroying several of the party’s leaders.

These questions, and how they panned out, created a deep, grumbling discontent – the worm in the apple – that, over time, turned the Conservative Party and, by extension, a significant section of the electorate against British membership of the EU. By telling the story of the arguments and divisions within the Conservative Party, The Worm in the Apple explains why Britain voted to leave in 2016. It is by no means the whole story, but they are an important part of it.

CHRISTOPHER TUGENDHAT was a leader writer for the Financial Times before being elected as an MP for the Cities of London and Westminster. He served as a member of the European Commission for nine years and was later chairman of Chatham House and the Civil Aviation Authority before being appointed to the House of Lords by John Major.

Listen to Christopher talk with Paul Adamson on the Encompass podcast.

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