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In the emotional, brutal and negative campaign prior to the UK's EU referendum on the 23rd of June it is generally forgotten that it was the Conservative Party who, under Edward Heath, took the UK into the EU in the first place, and the party was solidly pro-EU even under Thatcher's premiership in the 1980s. The party's major splits on EU questions only came subsequently.One of the few remaining Tory elder statesmen still around since the 1980s, Chris Patten, has stepped into the Brexit debate with a withering and eloquently written critique of the case for Brexit. The piece has a degree of frankness about Britain's recent history seldom seen in the debate so far. He points out how Britain was the sick man of Europe in the 1970s, and how being in the European Union helped the UK's economy to recover. This line of argument is a welcome antedote to the UKIP line that Britain is shackled to a corpse by being in the EU.Patten's piece is economically liberal and appeared in the left-leaning Guardian, so do not expect it to turn any swing voters in middle England. However it is worth reading as an exposé of the sort of case for the EU that has largely been absent in the UK - even before the referendum debate (that Patten describes as wretched). Above all I am struck by the reasonable balance Patten tries to strike - that the EU is not a purely economic project, but that the economics of it do matter, and that legislation to make the market work is not undesirable but in fact absolutely right.Readers outside the UK must be thinking "if only this were the way the UK actually could behave in the EU!" Sadly I'm not hopeful that will happen, but Patten's piece is a pleasure to read nevertheless.