Home arrow Policy arrow WHY LORD LAWSON FAVOURS BRITISH WITHDRAWAL FROM EU
WHY LORD LAWSON FAVOURS BRITISH WITHDRAWAL FROM EU

Posted 9 May 2013

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
	Opinion
	I'll be voting to quit the EU
	Nigel Lawson
	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 
	importance.
	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 
	unravelling.
	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 
	sacrosanct.
	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 
	2017.
	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 
	geographically obtuse.
	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 
	should it.
	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 
	more generally.
	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 
	ignorance.
	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
	
Last Updated ( Thursday, 09 May 2013 )
 
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