Anti-European protesters outside 10 Downing Street

Britain and Europe

"Brexit means Brexit" - Theresa May, 2016

We have a unique archive of primary research material covering all aspects of the debate around Britain and the European Union. Daniel Payne shares the highlights.

Daniel Payne portrait image


Daniel Payne

Curator for Politics and International Relations

Think tanks and campaign groups

Ideas of a federated Europe began to escalate around the time of the Second World War with the establishment of organisations exploring what a post-war Europe should look like. These include:   

  • The Federal Trust was a think tank formed in 1945 which to this day studies the link between regional, national, European and global levels of government.
  • The European Movement was founded in July 1948 as an all-party group to support and campaign for greater European unity.
  • The Bruges Group set up in 1989, its aim is to promote the idea of a less centralised European structure.
  • A large collection of papers relating to several major campaign groups opposing Britain's membership of the EEC/EU from the 1960s onwards eg the Campaign for an Independent Britain.
Britain in Europe campaigners
Campaigners for the group Britain in Europe, 1970s.


Referendums were held in 1975 and 2016 on Britain’s continued membership of the European Economic Community (EEC)/European Union (EU). We hold a variety of campaigning literature from both sides of the referendum debates:

Referendum posters from 1975
Leaflets from the 1975 referendum campaign. 


Since the Library was founded we have collected the papers of various key political figures and those influencing the public debate:

  • The Hetherington archive contains transcripts of interviews with key political figures from 1958–1975.
  • Alan Sked, LSE professor and founder of the Anti-Federalist League, forerunner to the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
  • Frances Josephy and Juliet Rhys-Williams collected widely on issues to do with Britain’s relationship with Europe, due to their membership of various organisations such as the European League for Economic Co-operation. 
  • Peter Shore was a eurosceptic Labour MP whose personal papers are held at LSE.
Leaflet from the 2016 referendum.
 Leaflet from the 2016 referendum campaign. 

How to search 

This is just a snapshot of the material we hold that covers this subject. You can find these items and many more by using the following search tools: 

How to access

Most of the material highlighted here is part of our special collections, which are open to all but must be consulted in our reading room. Find out how to book your place and order material on our access archives and special collections page. 

Further help

LSE students and staff looking for other resources such as journal articles and current research may wish to consult the department subject guide for the European Institute.

If you need specific help with any of the collections mentioned here get in touch with our Curator for Politics and International Relations, Daniel Payne.