I know this is all over the press today but here goes. Newly uncovered documents have revealed that Britain and France discussed the possibility of uniting in the 50’s.
In September 1956, French prime minister Guy Mollet came to London to discuss the possibility of a British-French union with his counterpart Anthony Eden. Eden turned down the idea but gave positive consideration to Mollet's next suggestion - that France should be allowed to join the Commonwealth. A government document dated September 28 1956 shows Eden recommended "immediate consideration" of France's Commonwealth bid and Mollet "had not thought there need be difficulty over France accepting the headship of Her Majesty [Queen Elizabeth II]; [and] that the French would welcome a common citizenship arrangement on the Irish basis".
At the time of Mollet's proposals, France was facing economic difficulties, an escalating Suez crisis and a bloody Algerian war. The French prime minister was seeking to line up his international allies, turning to Britain, a staunch French ally during two world wars. The discussions between Mollet and Eden came to nothing, and a year later France became a founding members of the Common Market.
The former Europe minister Denis MacShane said the revelation showed the "best bits of history are its footnotes" and he is quite right. While union has been partly realised through EU membership the story still comes as a surprise. On the other hand would it have lasted longer than the United Arab Republic (Egypt and Syria 1958-61)… we will never know.
Sources: Guardian Independent