Why Nigel Lawson wants Britain to leave Europe

Thatcher's Chancellor says EU is a 'bureaucratic monstrosity' with 'contempt' for democracy

(Image credit: 2012 AFP)

MARGARET THATCHER'S chancellor Lord (Nigel) Lawson has called for Britain to leave the European Union. In a 2,000-word essay for The Times, Lawson quotes Keynes to explain why he will vote 'no' in any forthcoming referendum on the UK's EU membership - "When the facts change, I change my mind". Here are Lawson's five reasons why Britain should quit:

Things can't only get better: David Cameron has already embarked on "preliminary" talks with fellow EU members to help renegotiate improved terms for Britain, as former prime minister Harold Wilson did before the 1975 referendum. But Lawson argues any changes the prime minister can secure ahead of a proposed 2017 in/out vote will be "inconsequential" and "trivial".

The United States of Europe: Lawson argues that the EU "project" has a clear purpose – to create a federal European super-state. Such an objective does not just demonstrate the EU's contempt for democracy, it is also "profoundly misguided" and not in the British interest.

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The euro makes things worse: The advent of the euro has "fundamentally changed" Britain's position in the EU. Monetary union among 17 out of 27 EU member states means the UK and others are becoming increasingly marginalised and are doomed to being consistently outvoted by the eurozone bloc. British business needs global challenges: The trade advantages of being in the single market are marginal, says Lawson, but British industry feels too "secure" in the EU instead of looking at export opportunities in the developing world. Leaving an institution that has achieved its historic purpose and is now "past its sell-by date" could force a much-needed change of focus.

A major economic plus: Aside from saving £8 billion per year on the UK's membership fee, Lawson argues there is another clear economic benefit to leaving the EU: the City will gain from being outside the "frenzy of regulatory activism". Rather than damaging our economy, an escape from the EU's "mandatory nonsense" would be a major economic plus for Lawson, who argues that the financial transaction tax and the EU's other regulatory efforts are motivated by a jealous desire to cut London down to size and partially by "well-intentioned ignorance".

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