Cam 'welcomes' Lawson intervention
David Cameron has welcomed former chancellor Lord Lawson’s intervention in the debate over Britain’s future in the European Union.
The Conservative peer this morning said the time had come for the UK to withdraw from the EU, saying the benefits of pulling out now “substantially outweigh the costs”.
Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, the Prime Minister said he welcomed the “attention” being paid to the debate following his pledge in January to hold an In/Out vote.
Asked if the peer's intervention had made today a “good day for UKIP”, Mr Cameron said: “I think it’s been a good day for the pledge that I have made, that if re-elected I will hold an In/Out referendum so that everybody can have, not just a voice about Britain’s future in Europe, but also can have a vote about Britain’s future in Europe.
“So I welcome the attention that is being placed on this key pledge that I have made.” Lord Lawson this morning hit back at Nick Clegg after the Deputy Prime Minister dismissed his call for the UK to leave the European Union.
After the Lib Dem leader argued that leaving the EU would cost 3 million jobs, Lord Lawson said: "Of course that’s poppycock, but I don’t think Nick Clegg, who’s a charming young man, has ever purported to know anything at all about economics."
Lord Lawson was speaking to the BBC's World at One programme.
Mr Clegg had earlier stated the intervention represented a struggle among Conservatives to respond to UKIP’s surge in last week’s local election.
“I know the Conservatives are struggling to work out how to deal with UKIP and they keep now changing their minds: one minute they want to be in the European Union, now senior Conservatives like Nigel Lawson say they want to go out,” he told ITV’s Daybreak.
Number 10 indicated today that the Prime Minister would stick to his guns on Europe.
A Downing Street spokesman said: "The issue of Europe is clearly a very important one. The Prime Minister has set out his position clearly, most recently with his speech in January when he made it clear that there would be an in-out referendum in the next Parliament.
"And he's made clear he will be continuing to make the argument and push for reform in Europe to make Europe more open, more competitive and mopre flexible."
Labour is also setting out its approach, with Shadow Europe Minister Emma Reynolds speaking in Vienna today on whether there is a realistic chance of a UK exit.