Lord Lawson and Lord Owen: Princeton University Conference – Europe and the Challenges of Brexit

NEW JERSEY - USA - Lord Lawson, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Lord Owen, former Foreign Secretary, today delivered speeches at Princeton University on the EU and our future relationship with the European Union.

On EU integration, Lord Lawson said:

‘On the European mainland it has always been well understood that the whole purpose of European integration was political, and that economic integration was simply a means to a political end’.

‘Unfortunately, a fundamental contempt for democracy has always been one of the most striking and least attractive characteristics of the European integrationist movement, however noble its intentions.’

Turning to the single currency, the former Chancellor explained:

‘There is not a single major monetary union in the world that is not also a fiscal union and a political union. The economic and political logic is incontrovertible.’

‘But the coming into being of monetary union – and there can be no doubt of the determination of the leaders of Europe to persist with it at all costs – has fundamentally changed the nature of the European Union, and of non-Eurozone Britain’s relationship with it.’

Lord Lawson said of the UK’s relationship with the EU:

‘To be part of a political project whose objective we emphatically do not share cannot possibly make sense.’

‘We continue to be fully subject to the ever-growing corpus of EU legislation and regulation, all of it directed to the achievement of full political union.’

In conclusion, Lord Lawson stated:

‘Membership of the European Union, however well-intentioned, is an affront to self-government; and it offers nothing that remotely compensates for this.’

Lord Owen began his speech by outlining the choice for the British people:

‘When you are a member of a dysfunctional organisation like the EU that can neither reform nor restructure you have two choices: either to reluctantly remain in the organisation or be brave enough to leave.’

He stressed the importance of NATO in protecting our national security:

‘While the EU is dysfunctional NATO is not. NATO would benefit today from a solely committed British voice not one hovering between it and EU defence…A core priority after Brexit must be for the UK to strengthen NATO and help improve the Alliance’s capability to act cooperatively to preserve peace and security including dealing with ISIL.’

‘In Europe we are sleepwalking in relation to security questions and the situation is not stable.  There is no shadow of doubt that all European NATO member states should now increase their defence budgets as agreed two years ago…There must also in future be less talk about EU military defence in EU documents such as the EU–Ukraine Association Agreement, less talk about EU common defence, and a far greater European commitment to NATO, not just in words but in actions.

The former Foreign Secretary concluded:

Outside the EU, the UK has an unique opportunity to shield itself from a future collapse in the Eurozone by starting to negotiate global trading arrangements and improving our competitiveness and simultaneously demonstrating a greater commitment to NATO.’