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“We have the opportunity to leave the EU before the temple comes crashing down.”

Lord Owen addressing the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Monday 25 April 2016  

Hear Lord Owen’s full speech here: RUSI Speech Live

Hear the Q+A session following Lord Owen’s speech here: RUSI Q+A

Read Lord Owen’s speech notes here: RUSIspeech2

Extracts: I begin with a quote from the author of ‘The EU an Obituary’ by John Gillingham, a well-known historian of the European Union from the Harvard Centre for European Studies. In his soon to be published book he writes “The present crisis of the European Union makes it painfully evident that the history of the EU must be re-thought, recast and re-written”. He goes on to say “Cameron’s promise of a better deal for Britain has little meaning in respect to an EU in disarray, which is untrustworthy, falling behind economically, and unable or unwilling to deliver on its commitments. At the rock-bottom level, moreover, a sovereign national political system, like Britain’s, based on the supremacy of Parliament, is incompatible with the existence of a supranational entity, whose leadership remains-in spite of everything – unwavering in its determination to create a European state.”

….I agree wholeheartedly with Mervyn King’s recent book ‘The end of Alchemy’, which says in a nutshell the euro crisis will continue and the collapse of the euro is inevitable, unless there is a system of fiscal transfers and the emergence of what is to all intents and purposes a country called Europe. No one can predict when or how exactly this series of events takes place. Perhaps the greatest danger is that in a time warp of its own the EU/Eurozone lumbers on, irresolute and undecided, with a malfunctioning euro, a dysfunctional EU and increasing economic stagnation. That may be the most realistic and yet almost the most depressing of all outcomes.

Against this the UK will suffer, even though outside the euro, very much more than the US. President Obama did not mention that. Common prudence tells us there is nothing the UK can do within the EU structure to avoid such an outcome. For the last six years both the US and the U.K. have pushed the EU to change the structure and design but have achieved nothing.

Now we have the opportunity to leave before the temple comes crashing down.

In remarks prefacing his main speech, Lord Owen commented on the current EU Referendum and its implications for Foreign and Defence Policy (listen to his speech for the full text);

I take exception to (president) Obama’s Telegraph article when he says that “…peace and prosperity in Europe is the responsibility of the United States and the European Union.“

There’s not been one US president since Truman in 1949 when NATO was brought into being that would have said that. It is very revealing of an attitude of mind that is in the White House and has probably been the in the State Department for much longer and which (may) soon be coming to the Department of Defence.

… I think there has never been a time when we could lose Congressional support for Nato.

…In this climate, wherever you stand on the referendum debate, if you’re concerned about European defence, ask yourselves how do you steady this movement to diminish the US commitment to defence? They’re not going to continue to be spending 73-75% of Nato’s budget, and there’s no politician who could win a Presidential election saying that they will go on doing that.

Obama was right to raise the issue and call us freeloaders. We are … freeloading and it has to stop.

I believe it will only stop when we call European defence for what it is; a sham, a fraud and a very serious danger to this country.

Lord Owen goes on to explain how Britain has to do everything it can over the next few years to strengthen NATO.

…many British people are puzzled, to say the least, about why President Obama should … urge us to remain in the EU, despite an impending collapse of the Eurozone which would impact far more on the UK than the US.

Lord Owen speaks about President Obama’s visit to the UK.
Vote Leave meeting, Welshpool, Friday 22 April 2016. 

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. That is the choice that faces individual British voters on 23 June.

There has been a long tradition that US Presidential visits to this country do not take place close to General Election periods. The reasons for this are obvious and hitherto scrupulously observed by Washington D.C. They also govern Prime Ministers visiting the United States.

President Obama’s first Secretary of the Treasury has used some very tough language about the Eurozone in his book Stress Test published in 2014. In writing about 2010 he says, “The second drag on our recovery was Europe, which was in financial and economic disarray,” and “the European mess was a serious threat to us.”….”The sudden panic in Europe was shocking.”….”Now Europe was burning again, and it did not seem to have the tools or the desire to control the fire. The Eurozone was sixteen [now 19] nations with sixteen fiscal policies and sixteen banking systems…”

Geithner writes in words with which I totally agree. “For all the flaws of the U.S. system, our fragmented regulatory agencies were at least part of the same nation, with a common language and traditions. And we routinely transferred resources to economically weak regions through our national budget.”

Six years later despite constant urging by Geithner and Jack Lew, his successor as Secretary of the Treasury, the Eurozone remains basically unchanged though now practicing qualitative easing under ECB Chairman Draghi.

No wonder many British people are puzzled, to say the least, why President Obama should, in the light of his and our failure to reform the Eurozone, come into the midst of our referendum campaign to urge us to remain in the EU, despite an impending collapse of the Eurozone which would impact far more on the UK than the US.

Read the full test of Lord Owen’s speech here: PresidentObamaUKVisit

Lord David Owen says Vote to Leave.

Leave copy_opt“To remain in the EU is in my judgement a more dangerous option for British security in its deepest sense – economic, political, military and social – than is being admitted or even discussed in the wake of Cameron’s failed negotiations.”

In an historical analysis of the UK’s membership of the EU, Lord Owen concludes it is time for the UK to leave the EU in the forthcoming referendum. In his book ‘Europe Restructured: Vote to Leave’, first published in 2012 and now extensively revised and updated to take account of his decision to support VoteLeave, Lord Owen recognises “that Europe has moved away from us. Its elite chose a different path long ago and it is not a path the UK ever wished to follow.”

Read the press release accompanying the launch of the updated version of ‘Europe Restructured’ here: VoteToLeaveRelease

A PDF copy of the book is available here: Europe Restructured 160301

 

Outside the EU, the UK has a 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. 

Lord Owen addressing Princeton University conference on ‘Europe and the challenges of Brexit’: 15 April 2016

Excerpts: 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. That is the choice that faces individual British voters on 23 June.

President Obama’s first Secretary of the Treasury has used some very tough language about the Eurozone in his book Stress Test published in 2014. In writing about 2010 he says, “The second drag on our recovery was Europe, which was in financial and economic disarray,” and “the European mess was a serious threat to us.”….”The sudden panic in Europe was shocking.”….”Now Europe was burning again, and it did not seem to have the tools or the desire to control the fire. The Eurozone was sixteen [now 19] nations with sixteen fiscal policies and sixteen banking systems,..”

Geithner writes in words with which I totally agree. “For all the flaws of the U.S. system, our fragmented regulatory agencies were at least part of the same nation, with a common language and traditions. And we routinely transferred resources to economically weak regions through our national budget.”

…. The U.S. Defense Department for decades has been hostile to EU “common defence” and to “autonomous defence” in the EU as well as to having two planning centres for defence in Europe, one in the EU and one in NATO. That is no secret and a factual judgement which I and many other people in Britain share.

….President Obama in his recent interview for the Atlantic magazine, correctly, and in the view of many Europeans rightly, openly criticised us in Europe for ‘freeloading’ on the NATO defence budget. It is clearly not tolerable for the U.S. voters that they should pay 73% or 75% of the NATO budget. That direction of travel has got to be corrected and soon. But it will not be done by the EU.

While the EU is dysfunctional, NATO is not.

Read the full text here:PrincetonUK PRESS RELEASE

If one is convinced as I am that another Eurozone crisis is inevitable, I can think of no more irresponsible decision for the UK to hang around within the European Union, even though we are not in the euro, merely waiting for that crisis to happen.

Lord Owen speaking at a Mouvement Européen meeting: Paris, Tuesday 12 April 2016

Excerpts: When 23 June comes, the fundamental judgement for Britain is “do we believe it is possible to run a single currency without a single country. Do we want to be part of that single currency and single country?” If we vote to remain we will be sucked irrevocably into both. No country has frequent referendums on one subject. After all, our last one on Europe was in 1975.

Eurozone leaders will at some stage be faced with a decision to transfer political sovereignty to a European government that can support and sustain the euro currency. That government will insist on a united foreign and defence policy. There will be no vetos as there are no vetos in any national government. If we have left the EU that presents no problem. If we remain in, we should not try to block its development. It will be argued that the Eurozone countries cannot yet take such a profound political step. The democratic support of its citizens is not there. I personally do not think it is possible for all seventeen Eurozone countries to live within such a financially disciplined structure. That will need to be determined by the nature and depth of the design changes that the transfer countries (Germany and the Netherlands) insist are introduced. All the signs are that if the Eurozone is unable to make that decision soon then their leaders will be faced by an urgent and even deeper Eurozone crisis. When – it is impossible to determine.

If there is no chance of a democratic will emerging in the next few years to integrate then the euro currency should be wound down to at least a very small grouping whose economies are closely linked to the Federal Republic of Germany. Anything else is damaging to the standards of living, not just of most of the citizens of Europe but of many in the global economy as all these issues interact.

I can think of no more irresponsible decision if one is convinced, as I am, that another Eurozone crisis is inevitable for the UK to hang around within the European Union, even though we are not in the euro, merely waiting for that crisis to happen. The Eurozone is economically stagnant. Not just suffering from appallingly high unemployment but already a dysfunctional Union. It is essential that Britain in leaving the EU has the courage, the imagination and the flair to find new global markets, become more competitive with even better design and quality than hitherto. We can start on that reorientation during the Treaties’ agreed transitional period towards a more global economy. I do not pretend that it will be easy but it is within our capabilities. We are not just a nation of shopkeepers but a people with an entrepreneurial spirit. By and large our smaller businesses are finding winning global markets easier than our larger ones who seek comfort in the lobbying business in and around Brussels.

Read the full speech here: ParisPressRelease12.4.16

The case for a new start for Britain grows stronger by the day. The Dutch vote should encourage voters in the UK to vote to leave in our referendum.

Lord Owen speaking at a Civitas seminar on EU foreign and defence policy, 7 April 2016:

Just as in 2005 when the Dutch voted down Giscard d’Estaing’s Constitutional Treaty, they have now blocked ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. No-one, not even the Prime Minister, can say that the Dutch vote is anti-European.  It is anti the dysfunctional EU that is dragging Europe down in its economic performance and its foreign and security policy. The French will be even more reluctant to risk a referendum to reform the euro and so the euro crisis will go on, reform will be shelved, relative stagnation continue. The case for a new start for Britain grows stronger by the day. The Dutch vote should encourage voters in the UK to vote to leave in our referendum.  There is another Europe that is starting to emerge and it is one which the UK can work happily with.

Britain must give primacy to NATO and demonstrate to Americans that we in Europe will not continue to be ‘freeloaders’. In the process we will ditch the pretence of a European foreign policy that bears a heavy responsibility for the mess we are in over the Ukraine.”

We in the cross-party Vote Leave Campaign, however, share a common democratic commitment. We will restore legal powers and democratic control of the NHS to voters in the UK. If we vote Leave – we will be able to protect our NHS from EU interference.

Lord Owen speaking at the launch of the Vote Leave ‘Save Our NHS’ campaign, Wednesday 6 April 2016

Excerpts: The EU/Eurozone from 1992, in marked contrast to the old European Community of 1975, creeps into every nook and cranny of our life. It is now becoming entrenched in the NHS and this June we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get it out.

We in the cross-party Vote Leave Campaign, however, share a common democratic commitment. We will restore legal powers and democratic control of the NHS to voters in the UK. If we vote Leave – we will be able to protect our NHS from EU interference.

In 2006 the Labour government commissioned a legal opinion on the effect of EU legislation on the NHS. The Health Department’s then commercial director, Ken Anderson, who had been involved with independent surgical treatment centres (ISTCs), told the Financial Times in January 2007: ‘My personal conviction is that once you open up NHS services to competition, the ability to shut that down or call it back passes out of your hands. At some point European law will take over and prevail … In my opinion, we are at that stage now.’

As if recognising the truth of this interpretation on 13 December 2007, with not much publicity, the Department of Health issued a document titled Principles and Rules for Cooperation and Competition, running through which are EU legal positions which have become the law that operates in the UK.

The advisory Co-operation and Competition Panel was reported in the Financial Times to have been applying its interpretation of the law since 2009 – by advising on NHS mergers and handling complaints about anti-competitive practices by hospitals and primary care trusts[1]. In truth, since 2002 the Labour government, the Coalition government and now the Conservative government have accepted an EU market in health.

… We are agreed in Vote Leave, that whatever our political views on the present marketization of the NHS, decisions on the NHS should for the future be for the UK Parliament and devolved administrations to take. It should not be for the European Commission nor the European Parliament.

[1] Financial Times, 27 and 29 July 2011.

Read the full text here: VoteLeaveNHSLaunch – Lord Owen[1]

We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leave in an orderly way ….under a government which has four years to run.

Lord Owen speaking today, 22 March 2016.

“Ed Miliband refused a referendum in the last election and it cost him many votes and a crucial number of seats [see Annex A]. He is a sincere and very committed European but it is important to recall that since 1962, under Hugh Gaitskell, the Labour Party has been every bit as strong an anti-federalist political party as the Conservative Party. The Labour Cabinet in July 1977 under James Callaghan actually defined the UK position as ‘Yes’ to Britain’s continued and constructive membership, but specifically ‘No’ to the integrationist wish eventually for a single state a United States of Europe.

……

“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leave in an orderly way through a transition period under a government which has four years to run before the next election. They will do all the negotiating. If we take this opportunity we will never become part of a United States of Europe. The ‘remain’ campaign wants everyone to ignore the Five Presidents Report, wants people to forget that their next demand is a Europe-wide election for President of the Commission. Inexorably all history points to the inevitable nature of a federal union to support a single currency. Alternatively the euro collapses with devastating effects. Our opportunity is to get out before it collapses.”

Read Lord Owen’s full statement here: PressRelease22.3.16