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07.05.13

Lord Lawson calls for UK to leave the EU

The UK should leave the European Union, former chancellor of the exchequer Lord Lawson has urged. He suggests the economic gains that could be made from the exit would outweigh the costs.

Prime Minister David Cameron has stated he will hold a referendum on EU membership next parliament, but only after renegotiating the terms of the UK’s relationship with the EU.

Lord Lawson labelled this attempt “inconsequential” and added: “I shall be voting 'out' in 2017.”

He highlighted opportunities for export in the developing world, particularly Asia: “Over the past decade, UK exports to the EU have risen in cash terms by some 40%. Over the same period, exports to the EU from those outside it have risen by 75%.”

Leaving the EU would also free the UK from regulations, such as the financial transactions tax.

Writing in the Times, Lord Lawson said: “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.

“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.”

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The PM has always been clear: we need a Europe that is more open, more competitive, and more flexible; a Europe that wakes up to the modern world of competition. In short, Europe has to reform.

“But our continued membership must have the consent of the British people, which is why the PM has set out a clear timetable on this issue.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg warned that leaving the EU could make us less safe, and put three million jobs at risk.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Image c. European Parliament

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