The Centre for Islamic Finance welcomed former Chancellor of the Exchequer and CIF director Lord Norman Lamont to speak on the topic of ‘Britain and the EU - the future of a troubled relationship’.
Lord Lamont is renowned for being a Cabinet Minister under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and as a member of the House of Commons for twenty-five years.
During his lecture, Lord Lamont charted Britain’s history with the European Union, from its entry in 1973, the decision to opt out of the Euro in the early 90s and the troubles facing the Eurozone today.
In opening, Lord Lamont recounted his maiden speech supporting Britain’s involvement with the European Union, which it joined in 1973.
In the 1980s, Britain’s ties with Europe grew following the signing of the Single European Act, which aimed to create a single market within the European community by 1992.
And it was this act that led to disquiet over Britain’s involvement with the European Union.
A revitalisation of the Werner Act led to the creation of the Euro, with Britain declining to join the single currency.
As the Chancellor of the Exchequer, under new Prime Minister John Major, it was Norman Lamont’s role to manage Britain’s decision to opt out.
’It was the dreariest year of my life,’ admitted Lord Lamont, who was forced to travel to Maastricht on a monthly basis to oversee Britain’s exemption.
‘I couldn’t see how this would work without a common finance ministry and harmonisation of taxes. I think to claim any foresight is wrong, but what subsequently happened with the Euro with huge pools of unemployment and social unrest was what I had expected.’
With youth unemployment at record levels, rising to over 50% in Spain, he admitted he was surprised that it has taken so long for social unrest and the rise of the far left, notably the recent election of the Syriza party in Greece.
‘The motive behind the creation of the Euro was honourable: to create peace in Europe. But the logic was faulty.
‘All of the hardships are down to the Euro being a political idea rather than an economical one.’
Lord Lamont concluded by discussing the European referendum due in the near future in Britain.
The victor of the forthcoming 2015 election will negotiate with Europe, before the public decide whether to stay in the European Union.
Despite being portrayed as a Eurosceptic, Lamont maintains that he carries an open mind about Britain’s involvement and admitted he won’t make a decision until the terms of the agreement are proposed.
The lecture was the second to take place at the Centre for Islamic Finance and follows recent Bolton Business School lectures involving industry experts such as Angela Spindler, Debbie Pierce and Piers Linney.
In closing, the Vice Chancellor Prof George E Holmes, detailed the plans for the development of the University and thanked his distinguished guest.
‘As a former Chancellor of the Exchequer you have someone who has operated on a world stage. Lectures such as these are at a world class level and what we are intending to build at this institution.
‘It was a great privilege to welcome Lord Lamont and to have his continued involvement with the Centre of Islamic Finance as a director.’