In this latest Edition of Lend Me Your Ear, I talk to Lord David Owen about Brexit. A Former Labour Foreign Secretary, and prolific author, Lord Owen is among the UK’s best-known and widely respected politicians. Having campaign for a Yes vote in the 1975 referendum on Europe, Owen famously left the Labour party in the early 1980s and was one of the four founders, and then leader of the SDP.
Now David Owen is backing Vote Leave and calling for Britain to quit the European Union, which he says has become over-bearing, undemocratic and dangerous.
QUOTES FROM INTERVIEW
“The dangers are remaining in the EU are very much greater than the dangers of leaving. There are very real risks, giving the prospect of a collapsing euro. People have got to be prepared to run against the propaganda, to run against the advice of the Prime Minister, which is clearly and utterly influenced by him continuing in office – and very similarly for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. And, of course, it’s not easy”.
“We need to accept that we should get out, and every year that goes by that we are outside the European Union are years that we won’t be affected by the euro’s collapse and years that we can look positively out into a global world and generally re-orientate and rejuvenate the British economy.
“At every stage you look at it, you see a fix – rigging – of this referendum. It isn’t a fair expression of public opinion. The tone and the tenor is as different as chalk from cheese compared to the referendum in 1975”.
“To have evoked Isil and suggested Brexit supporters are helping Isil in this referendum is absolutely outrageous. Words fail me. It’s a grotesque abuse of a referendum – appalling”.
“I believe this referendum will shred the reputation of David Cameron, I really do. The manner of the campaign matters to people. We’ve seen a side to him that is, quite frankly, unpleasant”.
“We on the Vote Leave side are holding our nerve against the propaganda. We have five weeks to convince people the dangers of staying in are greater than coming out. There are ripples and difficulties that might come during the two or three years of coming out, but the storms, the collapses, the hurricanes – they are down the track with this absolutely fatally-flawed design of the euro.”
“In my view all the indications are that are Britain would be better off recovering our nerve, governing ourselves and making decisions about immigration ourselves”.
“Wisely applied, immigration can improve the economy and add to our wealth and our culture. The governments says, completely incorrectly, that we control our borders. We don’t control our borders. We need a quota system, where we choose people who come who can contribute to our economy. This country can handle this immigration issue, as long as we have resources targeted on those affected and better controls so we can mainly take in people who really contribute”.
“There have been two big period of change – 1945, when Labour won big and brought in the NHS, proper pensions and radical government. Then in 1979, in came Margaret Thatcher and, there is no doubt, with market and trade union reforms, she made us more competitive and able to improve our prosperity. The third big shift would be if we decided to come out of the EU and had our own independence day. We would be returning to self-government and I think history would judge it as Britain’s independence day”.
“The very people, in the City and elsewhere, time after time, who said we have to join the euro, and said it would be disastrous if we didn’t, are the very people now are telling us we absolutely mustn’t leave the European Union. There is no humility in their economic assessments”.
“I trust the British people to get this right. The degree to which we’ve lost control of our own country is becoming more apparent to people. I think that will sway it against all this so-called evidence. And I think the Remain camp is now so worried they’re behaving like rats in a sack – or, perhaps ferrets in a sack would be a nicer expression”.