Lord Lawson, the most senior Tory figure so far to call for Britain to leave the EU, says there is now a ‘clear case’ for withdrawal, insisting the economic gains will ‘substantially outweigh the costs.’
Writing in The Times, Lord Lawson said: ‘The only gain that can be clearly quantified is that we would no longer pay our annual membership fee of some £8 billion….That is the size of our annual net contribution to the EU budget, even after the benefit of the Thatcher rebate.’
Lord Lawson, Margaret Thatcher’s longest serving Chancellor, also said that Britain would be better off outside a 27-nation bloc that has become a ‘bureaucratic monstrosity.’
In January, PM David Cameron promised to renegotiate the terms of Britain's EU membership and to hold an ‘in-out’ referendum if he is re-elected in 2015.
Lawson has now pledged to vote ‘No’ in any referendum on membership, a stance that piles further pressure on Cameron who is already facing challenges from eurosceptic MPs within his own party, and the rising popularity of UKIP among UK voters.
The last time the Conservative Party had a full scale ding-dong over Europe was back in the 1990s when John Major was PM. But it looks like the euro dispute is rearing up again, just in time for the next general election…