Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Euro charade: Nigel Lawson's absolutely right - the idea that we can renegotiate with the EU is pure fantasy - and voters will never fall for it

Nigel Lawson played a role in bringing down Margaret Thatcher, largely because of her resistance to Britain joining the Exchange Rate Mechanism, which she regarded as the precursor to the European single currency.

How things change. Twenty-three years later, the former Tory Chancellor not only accepts that Lady Thatcher was right about the euro, but he also argues that Britain would be better off outside the European Union.

Lord Lawson’s views are not especially unusual in today’s Conservative Party.

Though David Cameron wants to remain in the EU, albeit on new terms, 72 per cent of Tory voters and 84 per cent of party members say they would vote to leave tomorrow.

They evidently believe that any renegotiation would be, as the extraordinarily sharp 81-year-old peer puts it, ‘inconsequential’.

What makes this intervention significant is not just that Lord Lawson is the most senior Conservative so far to have said in public what many party bigwigs feel in private.

Nor is it that as a man who has chosen to make his home in France, he is hard to caricature as anti-European.

No, the real importance lies in the fact that Lord Lawson was a hugely successful Chancellor, whose tax reforms made possible Britain’s economic resurrection in the Eighties. We trust him on money matters.