Its most prominent feature has been the importance of the financial sector, the City of London, both economically and politically. The City of London forms with the Treasury and the Bank of England an extremely powerful economic policy community that has normally been successful in shaping the policy of British governments on major economic issues. Priority has generally been given to the interests and perspectives of the City rather than those of manufacturing or the trade unions in determining the national interest (Aspinwall 2004). There was no similar test for manufacturing. The nature of the City as an international financial centre has always led it to favor a policy of openness to the markets of the whole world, not just Europe. "For Britain, therefore, deregulation, whether nationally or the European Union-inspired, has been experienced as deregulation, with the creation of legal procedures, where informal agreements generally held, and the establishment of independent regulatory bodies" (Schmidt 1997, p. 167). Also, the business cycle in the Great Britain has normally been aligned with the US economy rather than the European economy. This provides a practical obstacle to early entry; but, more than that, it symbolizes a different view as to where British economic interests lie.
Politically, one reason for the hesitation was that the political class in Britain has been much more divided over the euro than the political class in other member states. Popular opposition to joining the single currency has also been strong in Denmark and Sweden, and the Danes voted narrowly in a referendum in September 2000 to stay outside. But the Danish currency is already pegged to the euro, and the Danish economy is more integrated within the Euro-Zone than the British economy is. The political class in Britain has become deeply split, with one of the two major parties, the Conservatives (Giddings & Drewry 2004). The Conservative party was initially the party of Europe, conceiving Europe as an enterprise which was very much in the security and economic interests of the British state, as well as a new external challenge to replace the Empire. It was a Conservative government under Edward Heath that narrowly secured parliamentary approval of the terms of entry in 1971 (Aspinwall 2004). It was the Labor Party whose leaders were prone to talk of 'a thousand years of history' (Aspinwall 2004, p. 56) and who were immensely distrustful of the Common Market because of the restrictions it imposed on national planning. "The erosion of the greater powers of Parliament have been cause for concern not only for members of Parliament but also for the executive, which given the lesser party discipline and the more vocal" (Schmidt 1997, p. 167). Although a majority of the Labor leadership did eventually support British membership of the European Community, a majority of trade unions and Labor Party members remained opposed because of their commitment to national economic planning.
Culturally and nationally, the Great Britain tries to preserve its uniqueness keeping old traditions and social institutions unchanged. For the anti-Europeans, the European Union is a dangerous semi-sovereignty process which forces new states meets its rules and obligations. British attachment to outmoded forms of