Lord Lawson was former PM Margaret Thatcher’s chancellor for six years
The former chancellor of the exchequer, Lord Lawson, has called for the UK to leave the European Union.
Writing in the Times, he said British economic gains from an exit “would substantially outweigh the costs”.
He describes the EU as “a bureaucratic monstrosity” and added that after an association with Brussels of 40 years “the case for exit is clear”.
Prime Minister David Cameron is facing calls to bring forward a promised referendum on the UK’s EU membership.
He says he will hold a vote early in the next parliament, should the Conservatives win the next general election.
Lord Lawson believes that leaving the EU would prove to be a wake-up call for business leaders.
He said that too many of them were content to be in “the warm embrace of the European single market” when the great export opportunities lay in the developing world, particularly Asia.
“The heart of the matter is that the relevant economic context nowadays is not Europe but globalisation. I strongly suspect that there would be a positive economic advantage to the UK in leaving the single market.”
He added that severing UK membership would save the City of London from a “frenzy of regulatory activism”.
“The heart of the matter is that the very nature of the European Union, and of this country’s relationship with it, has fundamentally changed after the coming into being of the European monetary union and the creation of the eurozone, of which – quite rightly – we are not a part.”
For these reasons, Lord Lawson says, having voted to stay in the European Common Market, as the EU was known in 1975, “I shall be voting “out” in 2017″.
“Not only do our interests increasingly differ from those of the eurozone members but, while never “at the heart of Europe” (as our political leaders have from time to time foolishly claimed), we are now becoming increasingly marginalised as we are doomed to being consistently outvoted by the eurozone bloc.”
The peer – who was Margaret Thatcher’s chancellor for six years – said the loss of the advantages of being within the single market were “marginal”.
“You do not need to be within the single market to be able to export to the European Union, as we see from the wide range of goods on our shelves every day. The statistics are eloquent.
“Over the past decade, UK exports to the EU have risen in cash terms by some 40%. Over the same period, exports to the EU from those outside it have risen by 75%.
“The heart of the matter is that the relevant economic context nowadays is not Europe but globalisation, including global free trade, with the World Trade Organisation as its monitor.”
He went on to say that he “strongly” suspects that there would be a “positive economic advantage to the UK in leaving the single market”.