EU referendum: Former chancellor Norman Lamont says trade won't dry up in the event of Brexit

James Nickerson
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The Ceremonial Funeral Of Former British Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher
Lamont thinks the idea that peace in Europe depends upon the EU is a "rather silly argument" (Source: Getty)

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont has said that trade will not dry up in the event of Brexit, as he belittled negative economic forecasts linked to a Leave vote.

The Tory grandee said the idea that trade is going to dry up and jobs are going to be endangered had very little justification in fact.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Lamont said that the "EU trades with 55 countries on a free trade basis around the world", adding that the United States "exports in services" as much as the UK to the EU, without having a free trade agreement in place or "a say in EU rules".

Lamont came out in favour of the UK leaving the EU in March, labelling it a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" and arguing the UK could succeed economically outside the EU.

Read more: UK told by German officials that it won't get special treatment after Brexit

He joined Lord Nigel Lawson, also a former Tory chancellor, in backing Leave, but opposed Ken Clarke, another former chancellor, who supports Remain.

On the subject of negative economic forecasts due to Brexit, Lamont lamented.

The OECD today became the latest in a strong of organisations to issue a warning on Brexit and what it would cost the UK economically.

But Lamont said that it's "absurd" to reduce the debate to "a whole lot of arithmetical figures".

"Any Chancellor of the Exchequer who believes economic forecasts needs his head examined," Lamont said.

Read more: Lord Lamont talks Osborne, Varoufakis and the EU referendum

On the issue of immigration, the former Conservative minister said that the UK does need some immigration, but expressed concerns about the scale of it.

Lamont accepted it was "not just an EU issue" as over half the migrants come from non-EU countries, but concluded that “the argument that immigration is overwhelming good for the economy is over-stated.

And he said the claim that peace in Europe has depended upon the EU is "completely false", adding it is a "rather silly argument".