The European Union is "doomed" because it doesn’t have the level of democracy required to make it a great economic region, the boss of one of the UK's biggest pub chains has warned.
Tim Martin, the chairman of JD Wetherspoon and a staunch supporter of the Leave campaign, said that just as the euro could "never work" because it lacks a government to raise taxes, the EU similarly lacked the democratic powers it needs to succeed.
"If you look around the world, the successful economies are democratic and have a very high level of democracy that you don’t have in Europe," Martin said, speaking at a debate this morning hosted by finance blog Hot Commodity.
"The European Court judgements, we have no control over and are supreme. The European Commission isn’t elected. It frames the laws and we cannot sack them. It is not democratic. And the 751 Members of European Parliament are too remote to be democratic," he added.
Tory MP Philip Davies, a long-standing Eurosceptic who founded the Better Off Out campaign in 2006, was also on the panel debate.
He argued that the EU was a declining part of the world economy and "that we should be ashamed" that we are contributing £10.2bn to be a part of it when we should instead be focusing on deals with other countries internationally.
He also dismissed fears of future trade agreements being at risk if the UK was to leave the EU, highlighting that with a trade deficit of £62bn, the EU is reliant on the UK as a trade partner.
"According to the House of Commons Library, we would be the biggest export market for the EU if we left...It is absolute nonsense that they would stop trading freely with us if we left," he said.
Arguing for the Remain vote, Vicky Pryce, chief economic adviser at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, said the UK has benefitted from increased productivity, innovation and investment as part of its membership of the EU over the past few decades.
"What it also does for the consumer and of course any entrepreneur who has to sell the goods is that it is a very keen market in terms of prices. Look what's been going on as the markets opened up in the airline sector...and the telecoms sector. There has been a huge consumer benefit coming out of this, with a huge increase in the number of possibilities in terms of what can be offered."
She also hit back at Davies' criticism of the EU being a declining part of the world economy, saying: "If you look at the growth of the countries that we are dependant on and that we would like to be trading more with – and nothing has stopped us so far doing this – or the BRIC countries with the exception of India, they are all in recession. We can’t rely on those parts of the world".
Pryce, who is also a former joint head of the Government Economic Service, also addressed critics of the EU regulatory burden, saying much of it was encouraged by the UK "because we want to create a level playing field".
"So we contribute to those regulations and if you look at the City of London we are much tougher in terms of what we are doing with our banks and the financial sector generally than is the case in Europe."
Her comments were supported by entrepreneur and UK President of G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance Alex Mitchell, who argued that UK businesses have been huge beneficiaries of EU funding programmes such as the Horizon 2020, which is providing nearly €80bn of funding for research and development projects over the seven years to 2020.
"We are nation of traders, and Philip [Davies] is right, we should be doing more with nations outside of European Union," Mitchell said.
Still, he added that it should be possible to do more in both Europe and internationally.