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 91.

    @90. engineer-neil

    That's right George is doing such a wonderful job with our economics,AAA for George, Perhaps NOT!!

    Engineer - More like a spanner!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    @85.ukvoter "Good, anything to get rid of this Bullington posh boys club"

    Stop reading the daily mirror, it's only making you more bitter & envious of success.

    Just you wait, when that bunch of economically iliterate halfwits get back in, all the wealth (and the wealthy) will leave these shores like rats from a sinking ship. Look 30 miles across the channel for an example.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    Why listen to Nigel Lawson? He doesn't even get the facts right associated with climate change and is only concerned about maintaining our high living standards compared to the rest of the world which we colonially exploit. It should no longer be Lawson's 'old school' economics of getting ever richer that prevail, the whole world's resource bank of Soil, water, food, minerals is overdrawn.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    Nigel Lawson also misses the point. If the major parties agree, as they have all stated they do, that continued EU membership is on the national interest the electorate are denied a ballot box choice to update their consent, since the 1975 referendum.

    This time the lie is out. This is not and never was a free trade area. It was and is a one way steam-roller to a Federal European state.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    It's obvious EU will want more and more cash until themselves are skint, they will never want less never. Never will the say, "Naw, don't give us so much, give us less."

    Cameron's referendum will never happen, this as a blackmailing tool to grab votes.... why not give us one now? Simple, he's nothing to gain.

    Red tape, Tobin tax, Eon a German firm we pay bills to - not German Electricity is it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.


    In comparison to one typo (strOnger) and working within the constraints imposed by the system, your efforts do not compare.

    You have thrown out facts - demonstrably fallacious.

    You have contradicted your own statements.

    You've typed nonsensical rants.

    You've not engaged in any discussion.

    I can only assume thr truth hurt and prompted a Report.

    You've no idea of my age.

    'nuf said! Bye

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    83. engineer-neil

    Good, anything to get rid of this Bullington posh boys club of Dave & Nick, the one's who promised a referendum on the EU, Gleggs lies about tuition fees, IDS robbing the disabled, give me tweedle dee & tweedle dum anytime!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    My concern with the EU is that it seems to be turning into a real life version of the Eurosong farce and we'll end up being (if not already are) just the tip of a political tail being wagged by the Euro dog.

    In such circumstances there's simply no point in being "at the table", better to plow our own furrow, accept the consequences and get on with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    @76.ukvoter "UKIP will take many seats off of them at the next general election."

    No they won't, UKIP will not win a single seat, but what they will do is split the tory vote and allow Tweedledum and Tweedledee (milipede & balls) to stroll back into No10.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    "I believe the BBC have shown bias against UKIP in their reporting."

    And I believe they have not. UKIP have lifting the ban on smoking in pubs as a major policy. How seriously should they be taken? Farage is an idiot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    It's about time we got out of the EU family ,there is a big wide world out there to trade with,
    give us a referendum now Dave and save our country from the disastrous bureaucrats of Europe,
    If you don't give us a referendum now we will vote another way come the election,you won't get in on false promises Dave
    act Now

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Cameron is right to seek EU reforms but the EU is not to blame for the economic meltdown. It is being made a scapegoat by the real culprits. The economy will not improve by quitting EU but prospects for trade, inward investment and jobs will most likely all suffer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.


    THICK TANK was a misprint initially, but after reading previous posts I let it stand.
    Btw.....very poor English.......stringer????........"some who resorts"????

    Back to school son.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    I never believed that the BBC would be afraid to post my last comment. If you don't accept criticism, how will you learn. There goes my licence fee and don't come begging for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    I pay my TV licence so kindly post this comment as any democratic institution would.

    I believe the BBC have shown bias against UKIP in their reporting.

    The BBC should acknowledge this and act before the trust of the public is destroyed.

    My trust will to a certain degree be restored if this comment is posted

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    Nigel Lawson is absolutely correct, It's time to get out of the EU and for us to have our country back, too much red tape, regulations & one sided rules. if the Tories do not move on this, UKIP will take many seats off of them at the next general election.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    All of this is hot air, and there's no point arguing over it. Nobody in their right mind seriously thinks that we will get an in/out vote. Cameron promises it in 2017 knowing full well that labour will be back in power. Labour, just to be assured of victory in 2015 will announce that they will hold the vote, only to renege on their promise as they did re the lisbon treaty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    UKIP/Lawson et al are the English Tea Party with their naive simplifications that distill all the UK's ills down to memberhship of the EU. There's almost nobody outside the UK that thinks the UK would be better off out of the EU, but inside the media fed fishtank too many people have swallowed this nonsense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    If we have a referendum can we be sure that it will be conducted honestly? Our leading politicians have lost the trust of many people and it is possible that they have too much to lose if the vote went against them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.


    Well it was your words "but willing to bet" that suggested it was NOT a "sure thing".

    It's not "sick" to highlight that Palestine has been trying for decades to get into UN as a Member State - + their claim based on principle of "right of self determination" is much stringer than Scotland's.

    It's rich that some who resorts to name calling should then exhort me to GROW UP.

    Cure thyself 1st


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