Former Conservative leader Michael Howard has become the latest high-profile Tory to call for Britain to leave the European Union.
However, writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said that was not Cameron’s fault: “It is the fault of those EU leaders so mesmerised by their outdated ambition to create a country called Europe that they cannot contemplate any loosening of the ties which bind member states.”
Howard argued that the only way to “shake Europe’s leaders out of their complacency” was by voting to leave. “There would be a significant chance that they would ask us to think again. When Ireland and Denmark voted to reject EU proposals, the EU offered them more concessions and, second time round, got the result they wanted,” he wrote.
Howard said his decision to defy Cameron, whom he had “known and admired” for nearly 25 years, was not reached “without much heart searching”.
“He has led our country with great distinction. It is not easy for me to be on the opposite side of the argument from him. But we all have to make up our own minds on the path which we think will best serve the national interest.”
Howard, now a member of the House of Lords, led the Tories for two years until 2005, when he was replaced by Cameron who had been part of the party’s research department under Howard andbriefed him for appearances on programmes such as Question Time. Howard told ConservativeHome in 2014: “I was always very impressed with him.”
Howard’s call comes amid claims that the world’s most powerful economies are poised to warn against Britain quitting the EU, following talks with George Osborne. Finance ministers are meeting in Shanghai on Friday and the chancellor is expected to press for the G20 to signal its concerns about a possible Brexit.
Britain’s future in the EU is not on the formal agenda for the G20 meeting, but Osborne is expected to discuss the issue with his counterparts. Officials at the talks told the Financial Times they expected there to be a reference to Brexit in the official communique.
This article was written by Chris Johnston, for theguardian.com on Friday 26th February 2016 00.25 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010