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David Owen’s Brexit case undermines itself

by Hugo Dixon | 25.02.2016

David Owen has come out with a barrage of arguments for Britain to quit the EU. Two of them undermine themselves.

Blowing eurozone up wouldn’t be in UK interest

The former Social Democratic Party leader told the BBC on Feb. 25 that quitting EU could help trigger a partial break-up of the eurozone. He thinks that is desirable on the grounds that the eurozone is too large, containing countries such as Greece which should never have been members. Owen hopes that a restructuring of the eurozone would, in turn, pave the way for the creation of a bigger, looser, European free trade area, in which Britain would remain.

Owen, who is also a former foreign secretary, may be right that Brexit would increase the chance of the eurozone partially breaking up. Eurosceptics in other countries would be buoyed by the move and might push to quit the single currency, if not the EU itself. But such a break-up would not be in Britain’s interests. This is partly because nobody has come up with a controlled way of dismantling the euro. The ensuing economic chaos would damage the UK too.

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What’s more, if Britain was seen as one of the triggers for the eurozone’s partial collapse, it would get some of the blame. That wouldn’t put it in a good position to help construct something new from the wreckage. On the other hand, if Britain stayed in the EU and the euro still broke up, it would be in a position to play a lead role in building something new.

Brexit could hasten a European army

Owen also told The Sun he feared a European army. Creating such a military force is certainly premature. It would be a mistake to create an EU army before the EU had a common and effective foreign policy.

That said, if Britain quits the EU, the chance of a European army will shoot up. At the moment, we are the main albeit not the only brake on the creation of one – and we have the power to veto one. If we left, the French and Germans could well concoct such an entity. This European army might become the de facto European arm of Nato, reducing our voice in the alliance. It might even lead to the dismantling of Nato. Neither outcome would be in Britain’s interest.

Edited by Sam Ashworth-Hayes

Hugo Dixon is the author of The In/Out Question: Why Britain should stay in the EU and fight to make it better. Available here for £5 (paperback), £2.50 (e-book)

One Response to “David Owen’s Brexit case undermines itself”

  • This is a terrific project and really valuable against the torrent of untruths, misrepresentations and downright lies from the Outers