Lord Owen addressing the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Monday 25 April 2016
Watch a video of Lord Owen’s speech here: RUSI speech video
Hear an audio recording 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.