One of the most important factors a! ecting British politics is its membership in the European Communities, which has already had massive implications for this country. The relationship between Britain and Europe has always been problematic. In Britain there has been little enthusiasm for European integration per se, and equally little understanding of the enthusiasm felt on the continent. Europe has been seen as a menace rather than an opportunity and very few British politicians have attempted to argue (as is commonplace on the continent) that monetary union, for instance, is the only way of regaining control over financial policy.The European idea of pursuing economic integration as a means to political union has also been met with blank incomprehension, if not outright hostility. Britain has always been attempting to slow down the process of integration and, consequently, has often fallen behind and had no choice but to catch up.