UK will benefit from leaving the EU says Lord Lawson
Nigel Lawson, Margaret Thatcher’s former Chancellor of Exchequer of six years, stated on 7th May that the United Kingdom’s membership to the European Union is detrimental to the UK economically and called for the prime minister to bring a promised referendum on EU membership forward from 2017 to before the next general election.
Writing for Tuesday’s The Times, Lord Lawson claimed that talks on the EU banking union focused on the wrong things and was “motivated by a jealous desire to cut London down to size”.
The financial sector, part of the UK’s service sector which accounts for two-thirds of overall gross domestic product, currently does not have a voice within Europe’s banking union negotiations due to a failed attempt by the UK to block negotiations through vetoing discussions in December 2011 council meetings. Since then, the UK has only had observer status in negotiations.
By leaving the single market – which is by value the largest market in the world – Lord Lawson said, the UK would be free to negotiate with other large financial centres such as the USA, but has failed to mention that currently the EU Commission, the executive arm of the EU, is currently in bilateral free-trade negotiations with the USA, which promises to be the largest free-trade agreement in history.
Lord Lawson also suggested that trade liberalisation can be further secured through the World Trade Organisation. However, the current Doha round of negotiations have been ongoing and in stalemate since 2001.
Focusing on the issue of exports, Lord Lawson has stated that UK industry has become complacent within the single market preferring to focus on trade partners within the EU, rather than branching out to Asia, which forms part of a number of countries who have continued to post high levels of growth. The EU Commission concluded talks in 2011 creating a free trade agreement between the EU and South Korea, which is the EU’s largest to date.
The article comes out against a backdrop of the Conservatives losing ground to UKIP in local elections where the Conservatives lost ten councils. UKIP’s anti-European message is something that the Conservatives are finding increasingly difficult to distinguish themselves from, and has meant that a number of Tories are coming out with more provocative anti-EU statements.
In response, a Number 10 spokes person has issued a statement stating that the prime minister is “confident” that his strategy will work.
The emotive opinion piece was selective on information it chose to present as well as figures behind it, stating that the only figure that can “be clearly quantified” was the £8 billion annual contribution that the UK makes to the EU.