Little Englander? Not in Thatcher's world

Lady Thatcher

David Cameron's riff about wanting to see "a strong Britain in Europe" rather than "Nigel Farage's little England" reminds me of a Conservative Party conference in the late 1990s.

We were in Blackpool and conference-goers would cluster in a small handful of restaurants.

I was at a table with my colleagues from The Times, entertaining some now long-forgotten guest.

Behind me was a table bursting to the seams with acolytes of Margaret Thatcher.

Eventually the Lady arrived with Denis and she held court.

At my back was an arch-Thatcherite Tory MP who could hardly contain his excitement.

At one stage of the evening, he said plaintively to Lady Thatcher: "The trouble is, Margaret, that whenever I attack Brussels, they call me a little Englander."

Lady Thatcher leant across the table, put her hand over his hand, looked him steadily in the eye and growled: "There is no such thing as a little Englander, only a big Englander."

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