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