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

What a difference a day makes

In just 24 hours, Sir Malcolm Rifkind went from angry defiance to a grim-faced acceptance that he would have to quit his job as an MP and chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

Read full article

More on This Story

More from Nick


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    Mr Lawson made the point that was missing from the Queens Speech. The EU as a trading association is great but not as a bureaucratic Republic. The following link is an example of how the UK is being led by the nose into absurd regulations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    103 Redline "Our economy is geared to trade services with our European counterparts. They would price us out of Europe with sanctions"

    What twaddle! The WTO does not allow its members to impose 'sanctions' on each other and since the UK is by far the EU's biggest single customer, any attempt on their part to disrupt that trade would hurt them more than it hurt us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.


    It was available to me as a 15 year old schoolboy in a small town school in North Wales - so it can't have been that difficult to get hold of.
    Undemocratic? There's an elected Parliament! Though I'd agree that making the parliament senior to the Council of Ministers and the Commission would be more democratic. Too much democracy for most Eurosceptics? - hissy fits at the mention of this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    Former Tory heavyweights are as relevant today as


    (Insert as appropriate)

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    133 "In 1975 you voted be a signatory to that treaty The text is accessible on the inter net, even a quick reading makes it clear that political union was the aim"

    The text of the Treaty was not easily available to every one in 1975 as there was no internet
    And even if we had known that full political union was the aim, we would never have suspected that undemocratic political union was the aim


Comments 5 of 151


Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC


  • Kinetic sculpture violinClick Watch

    The "kinetic sculpture" that can replicate digital files and play them on a violin

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.