Former U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson said he’ll lead a campaign for Britain to leave the European Union as he doesn’t believe Prime Minister David Cameron will succeed in securing the necessary reforms.
Lawson, the most high-profile Conservative so far to say he’ll back an exit from the 28-nation bloc, announced his move in an article in the Times newspaper published Thursday. While he acknowledged Cameron is seeking to obtain better membership terms for Britain, he told the BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program that only changes to EU treaties would secure these, an aim he doesn’t believe is achievable.
“You can’t have treaty change without unanimous agreement,” said Lawson. “All the evidence is that that unanimity isn’t going to be forthcoming” and “the necessary changes aren’t going to happen.”
While Cameron has sought to pacify the euroskeptics in his Tory party by pledging to get a better deal for Britain, Lawson wrote in the Times that they “cannot afford to wait that long” and need to start their campaign to have a chance of winning the referendum, promised by the end of 2017. A number of groups campaigning for an exit have emerged in recent months, with Lawson, who was chancellor under Margaret Thatcher, heading “Conservatives for Britain.”
Lawson called the EU an “entirely political venture” and therefore not suited to foster Britain’s needs.
“There’s no economic benefit at all,” he said. “Indeed, economically, it’s damaging us.”
Nevertheless, Lawson was keen to dispel accusations that he’s anti-European.
“I am not anti-European,” he told the BBC. I’m speaking from my home in France.’’