BRITAIN

Former British finance minister Nigel Lawson calls for EU exit

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 May, 2013, 5:04pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 May, 2013, 5:04pm
AFP

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Britain would enjoy a significant economic boost if it left the European Union, former finance minister Nigel Lawson said in an article on Tuesday which will fuel the debate about a referendum on British membership.

Writing in the Times, Nigel Lawson insisted that “the case for exit” was now clear and urged Britain to sever its 40-year association with Brussels.

“In my judgement the economic gains would substantially outweigh the costs,” wrote Lawson, who was Margaret Thatcher’s longest serving Chancellor of the Exchequer.

He said the EU had become a “bureaucratic monstrosity” and warned that the idea of “a federal European superstate” was “profoundly misguided” and “certainly not for us”.

Lawson, who voted to keep Britain in the bloc during a 1975 referendum, also claimed that an exit would save Britain’s valuable financial sector from a “frenzy of regulatory activism”.

His comments come days after Britain’s Eurosceptic and anti-immigration UK Independence Party (UKIP) scored resounding successes in local polls, piling pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage confirmed that he would stand in Britain’s next general election in 2015 as the party seeks to translate growing public support into seats in parliament at the expense of the three main political parties.

Government ministers on Sunday rejected calls for Cameron to counter UKIP’s rise by pushing through legislation for a referendum on EU membership before 2015, instead of by late 2017 as he has promised.

Lawson served in Thatcher’s Tory government as finance minister between 1983 and 1989, overseeing a huge rebalancing of Britain’s economy through privatisations and deregulation.

He now sits in the upper House of Lords after being made a life peer in 1992.