Lawson says the unsayable


The significance of Nigel Lawson's intervention is not just that he has broken something of a Tory taboo by calling for Britain to quit; it's also that he is a former chancellor arguing essentially on economic grounds.

The EU, he claims, is hurting one of our most important industries - financial services - and, secure "within the warm embrace of the European single market", giving British businesses an excuse not to develop trade with the developing economies.

Awkward you might think for the prime minister, but today he was putting on a brave face, claiming that Lord Lawson had in fact helped highlight his pledge of an EU referendum if he is re-elected.

His backbenchers want him to promise a Commons vote on the issue before the next election, but there will be no such promise in the Queen's Speech tomorrow.

Like Labour's Harold Wilson, the man in charge the last time Britain had a referendum, David Cameron has promised to renegotiate Britain's relationship with Europe.

Lord Lawson said that would be as pointless in future as it had been then.

What was once unsayable by any senior Conservative has now been said. Which means the issue once described by the foreign secretary as a ticking bomb is ticking rather louder.

Mr Cameron once warned his party to stop obsessing about Europe. The call by a former Tory heavyweight for Britain to leave the EU has made that a forlorn hope.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    Most of the larger shopping outlets in France will show your invoice in Euros and also French Francs. The French seem not totally convinced that the 'European Dream' will last.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    I'd rather be OUT of the EU and take our chances with the bigger players, the rest of the world.
    The EU costs us a fortune and we only get the problems...

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    It means someone is dithering (as the English have been for decades).

    That's not a gamble it's a sure thing.

    You compare Scotland with Palestine, thats sick.

    OOps, missed an apostrophe there.

    GROW UP.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    No64 Big,
    Are you possibly being a little unkind towards John?
    It was the Liberal/Tory Churchill that referred to 'The United States of Europe'
    It was Tory PM Heath who took the UK into 'Europe' - without a referendum.
    The current leader of the 'nasty' party has made it clear that he is a fervent supporter of the EU.
    The party is in freefall.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Just look at the petty arguments and point-scoring on here. No wonder the EU and our own government get such a bad press. As for Lawson, I was around at the time and he was bloody useless but too stupid to see it. He hasn't changed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    There's no HYS on Cameron's pathetic and arrogant speech so I'm going to rant here. They (some Tory grande) probably got Lawson to protest against the EU precisely so Cameron could react to him and not Farage. He still refuses to acknowledge the existence of UKIP and there's not a chance he can "negotiate our relationship" with the EU. Stop trying to manipulate us with these constant lies!

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.


    Of course EU would welcome the Scots with open arms and as the Scots will be so oil & gas rich your net contribution per head will be very generous too. Eng/Wales/NI will be much poorer so perhaps we can continue, as Salmond claims, to leach off the Scots too just indirectly via the EU this time?! :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    @60. John
    What regurgitated rubbish John. And shame on anyone else peddling this twistemyth.

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    'hurting one of our most important industries... financial services'
    N Lawson
    They need no help from the EU or anybody else for that task.
    Thieving bankers, Ponzi operators, market manipulaters,libor/ppi crooks.
    They know all about creating 'hurt'.
    There is something fundamentally wrong when a certain element in 'financial services' are robbing their parents and children.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    @60 John - please proof-read your sentences before pressing Post Comment - you will find your argument more readily accepted if you write it clearly...

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    For you Information any member state who sign the Roman treaty are committed to create one EU nation this is clear stated in the first paragraph of the treaty as for the UK Ted Heat sign the treaty in the name of the UK so we had our referendum and agree to be part of the EU if the UK political people did not explain the first paragraph of the treaty is not the EU fault.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.



    EITHER, OR, PROBABLY,IF..........your words.


  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    I know the BBC finds it "difficult" to be impartial over the EU in/out debate, but could they at least try?

    Big business is pro-EU, not only about a market, but the lure of cheap immigrant labour. They also don't give a fig for people control of a nations own affairs- in fact the opposite suits them.

    Left wing politicians see a lucrative job opportunity and fresh voters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    if I get re-elected and every body is going to buy that even a promise now is a tory promise therefore a non event get them out now and get them out for good

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Thing is, what we should do to ensure a vote on the EU before the next election is, lobby for a deeper EU, full integration, scrap Parliament in London as there would be no need for it, Have full EU wide voting from all member states. Have Town Council's to run the offices in the UK.

    Watch how quick MP's will then say that the EU is not effective and we should leave, Voting next week!

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    #53 Bigleeroy ~ the political classes of course, the EU is too frightened to seek the opinion of or mandate from mere mortals like you or I.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.


    Currently in EU: 132m from states getting bailouts, 103m from Eastern Europe

    That's 235m (out of 439m) that either had money and now don't or never had it in the first place (thats 53+%).

    And, as they're already in "the club" they'll probably come before Scotland - if there's anything left

    That's if you get in

    And they don't impose Transition Arrangements to restrict you for a few years

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    When you say "the rest of EU want deeper integration". Who exactly are you talking about? Is it the "people's" of Europe who never voted for it, said "NO" and want out or are you talking about someone else. Please explain?

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.



    Maybies aye maybes naw, but willing to bet Europe would welcome us with open arms, as opposed to you meddlesome trouble makers. As would the UN with their right of self determination.
    No country that has broke the yoke of the English (scores of them) and took the independence road has ever returned, not ONE, doesn't that tell you something?
    Go ahead be a pariah.


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