Sir John Major, British Conservative Prime Minister
from 1990 to 1997
In a speech he gave a few months before the Maastricht summit, John Major said: "It is because we care for lasting principles that I want to place Britain at the heart of Europe". He thought the UK could "inspire and shape" the European project…
Though Major secured a number of opt-outs from the Maastricht Treaty regarding social policy and membership of the single currency, the Conservative Party's internal arguments over the ratification of Maastricht (and over Europe generally) undermined Major's premiership.
On 16 September 1992 (“Black Wednesday”), the UK was forced to abandon membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism (intended to keep inflation low by linking exchange rates to the Deutschmark); it was one of the lowest points in Britain's relationship with Europe.