While linkage between UK membership of the European Union and the "dangerous man-made global warming" scam may not be oibvious at first sight, the fact that British withdrawal from EU is now favoured by none other than RIght Hon Nigel (Lord) Lawson, Chancellor of the Exchequer in the late Margaret Thatcher's government, now founder (in 2009) and chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation suggests that his opinions are worth noting. LOrd Laweon has outlinedhis views in an afrtyicle in The TImes of London.
THE TIMES Tuesday May 7 2013
I'll be voting to quit the EU
David Cameron has promised that in four years time the British people
will be given the opportunity to decide in a referendum whether this
country should leave the European Union.
To validate this promise, of course, he first needs to win the 2015
general election, which is by no means assured. But as the British
people clearly wish to be given this choice, it is unlikely that, at
the end of the day, the Labour Party will wish to go into the next
election denying it to them. So one way or another, an in-out
referendum is likely to be held. It will be an event of historic
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has already embarked on a series of
preliminary talks with our EU partners, hoping in due course to be
able to renegotiate improved terms for the UK within the Union, which
he can then put to the people in a referendum in 2017. We have been
here before. He is following faithfully in the footsteps of Harold
Wilson almost 40 years ago. The changes that Wilson was able to
negotiate were so trivial that I doubt if anyone today can remember
what they were. But he was able to secure a 2-1 majority for the "in"
vote in the 1975 referendum.
I have no doubt that any changes that Mr Cameron ˜ or, for that
matter, Ed Miliband ˜ is able to secure will be equally
inconsequential. The theology of the acquis communautaire, the
principle that any powers ceded by the member states to the EU are
ceded irrevocably, is absolute. It is the rock on which the Union is
built, and ˜ through the so-called Passerelle Clause of the Lisbon
Treaty ˜ effectively an explicit part of the EU constitution.
Moreover, to make exceptions for one member state would inevitably
lead to similar demands from others and threaten a general
Some pin their faith on making use of the much-vaunted doctrine of
"subsidiarity". But subsidiarity ˜ pushing decision-making down to the
lowest appropriate level ˜ is something to which the European
establishment pays lip service and then resolutely ignores. The
doctrine that "more Europe" must ipso facto be a good thing is
My friends among the eurocracy assure me, too, that a precondition for
any renegotiation would be that we agree to give up the UK rebate
secured with such difficulty by Margaret Thatcher some 30 years ago.
But all this is largely beside the point. The heart of the matter is
that the very nature of the European Union, and of this country's
relationship with it, has fundamentally changed after the coming into
being of the European monetary union and the creation of the eurozone,
of which ˜ quite rightly ˜we are not a part.
That is why, while I voted "in" in 1975,1 shall be voting "out" in
This has nothing to do with being "anti-European", a particularly
bizarre suggestion in my own case, given that my home nowadays is, by
choice, in France ˜ indeed, in la France profonde ˜ from where I
commute weekly to work in England. The issue is not Europe, with its
great history, incomparable culture and diverse peoples, but the
European Union. To confuse the two is both historically and
On the Continent it has always been well understood that the whole
purpose of European integration was political and that economic
integration was simply a means to a political end. In this country
that has been much less well understood, particularly within the
business community, which sometimes finds it hard to grasp that
politics can trump economics.
That the objective has always been political does not mean that it is
in any way disreputable. Indeed, the original objective was highly
commendable. It was, bluntly, to eliminate the threat to Europe and
the wider world from a recrudescence of German militarism by placing
the German tiger in a European cage. That objective has been achieved:
there is no longer a threat from German militarism.
That today German influence is increasing peacefully, largely at the
expense of France, as a result of Germany's superior economic
performance is not something to which anyone can legitimately object.
But in the background there has always been another political
objective behind European economic integration, one that is now firmly
in the foreground. That is the creation of a federal European
superstate, a United States of Europe. There is, of course, nothing
disreputable about this either. Unlike the first objective, however,
it is, I believe, profoundly misguided. It is certainly not for us.
As far back as January 1989, as Chancellor and well before the single
currency had come into being, I pointed out (in a major speech at
Chatham House) that the only way that European monetary union could be
made to work would be if it were accompanied by full fiscal union,
which in turn required full political union. I warned that it would
therefore be most unwise to go ahead with the project since, whatever
many of their leaders and above all the eurocracy may have wished, a
full-blooded political union was not wanted by the majority of the
peoples of Europe.
Unfortunately, a fundamental contempt for democracy has always been
one of the most striking and least attractive characteristics of the
European movement, however noble its intentions. But that was the
clear purpose of the project, never mind that the lesson of history is
that the sequence has to be the reverse, with political union coming
first and monetary union a consequence.
Hence in large part the continuing eurozone disaster and with it
continuing European economic underperformance. But the coming into
being of monetary union ˜ and there can be no doubt of the
determination of the leaders of Europe to persist with it at all costs
˜ has fundamentally changed the nature of the European Union and of
non-eurozone Britain's relationship with it.
Not only do our interests increasingly differ from those of the
eurozone members but, while never "at the heart of Europe" (as our
political leaders have from time to time foolishly claimed), we are
now becoming increasingly marginalised as we are doomed to being
consistently outvoted by the eurozone bloc.
So the case for exit is clear. But would there be a heavy economic
cost, making this unwise? There would indeed be some economic cost,
partly transitional and partly as a result of the loss of the modest
advantages of being within the single market.
But in my judgment the economic gains would substantially outweigh the
costs. The only gain that can be clearly quantified is that we would
no longer pay our annual membership fee of some £8 billion. That is
the size of our annual net contribution to the EU budget, even after
the benefit of the Thatcher rebate (which Tony Blair, disgracefully
and unilaterally agreed ˜ against strong Treasury advice ˜ gradually
to surrender in almost his last act as Prime Minister).
But there are other, and more important, gains than this. It is widely
recognised throughout Europe that, safely removed from effective
democratic accountability, the EU has become a bureaucratic
monstrosity. This imposes substantial economic costs on all member
states. These are perhaps greatest in the case of the UK, not
principally because our own dear bureaucracy is inclined to goldplate
the regulations that emanate from Brussels (although all too often
this occurs), but more because we have a tradition of precision in
law-making and respect for the law that is less pronounced in much, if
not most, of the rest of Europe. That is not going to change, nor
Moreover, there is one area of regulation of particular importance to
the UK, where the EU regulatory cost threatens to be even greater than
it is already, and that is the area of banking and financial services
Despite the banking disasters of 2007-08, London remains a far more
important financial centre than the rest of Europe put together. It is
one of the few major industries, with substantial growth prospects,
where this country is indisputably a world-class player.
As a member of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards I am
well aware of the need to clean up British banking, and proper
supervision and regulation has to be part of it. But the ultimate
purpose is not to cut British banking down to size but to enable it,
shorn of the cultural decadence and scandals that emerged towards the
end of the last century, to flourish globally.
However, after the recent banking meltdown, the EU is currently
engaged in a frenzy of regulatory activism, of which the foolish and
damaging financial transactions tax, imposed against strong UK
opposition, is only one example. In part this is motivated by a
jealous desire to cut London down to size, in part by well-intentioned
The Bank of England, now through the Prudential Regulation Authority
restored as the body responsible for the necessary and sensible
supervision and regulation of British banking, is becoming
increasingly frustrated by the mandatory nonsense emanating from
Brussels. Escaping from this and reinforcing the escape by
co-operation with the only other genuine world financial centre, the
United States, would be a major economic plus.
Those who claim that to leave the EU would damage the City are the
very same as those who in the past confidently predicted, with a
classic failure of understanding, that the City would be gravely
damaged if the UK failed to adopt the Euro as its currency.
But what of the loss of the advantages of being within the single
market? In the overall scheme of things these are marginal. You do not
need to be within the single market to be able to export to the
European Union, as we see from the wide range of goods on our shelves
every day. The statistics are eloquent. Over the past decade, UK
exports to the EU have risen in cash terms by some 40 per cent. Over
the same period, exports to the EU from those outside it have risen by
75 per cent. The heart of the matter is that the relevant economic
context nowadays is not Europe but globalisation, including global
free trade, with the World Trade Organisation as its monitor.
Indeed, I strongly suspect that there would be a positive economic
advantage to the UK in leaving the single market, quite apart from the
more important economic gains I have already listed. Before we joined
the European Common Market, as the EU was then known, far too much of
British business and industry felt secure in the warm embrace of what
was still known as Imperial Preference and was reluctant to look
farther afield. It took entry into the Common Market to bring about a
recognition of the opportunities on our doorstep.
Today too much of British business and industry feels similarly secure
in the warm embrace of the European single market and is failing to
recognise that today's great export opportunities lie in the
developing world, particularly in Asia. Just as entry into the Common
Market half a century ago provided a much needed change of focus, so
might leaving the EU, an institution that has achieved its historic
purpose and is now past its sell-by date, provide a much-needed change
of focus today.
There is a saying frequently attributed to the eminent economist John
Maynard Keynes. Charged with having changed his mind about economic
policy, he is said to have replied: "When the facts change, I change
my mind. What do you do, sir?" It is probably apocryphal, but it
accurately encapsulates his approach to events. It also accurately
sums up where I now stand on the issue of UK membership of the
European Union and why I shall vote "out" in 2017 if given the
opportunity to do so.
Lord Lawson of Blaby was Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1983-89