"The Irish wanted self-government, and I regret it, in a sense" – Lord Nigel Lawson tells Pat Kenny

The retired British politician spoke about the sentimental links between the UK and Ireland and his hopes for a Brexit

Brexit, Nigel Lawson, Chancellor of the Exchequer

Former chancellor Nigel Lawson speaks at the Institute of Directors convention at the Royal Albert Hall, London, during a debate on the future of the European Union [Jonathan Brady / PA Wire/Press Association Images]

Lord Nigel Lawson, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, has told Pat Kenny about how the British people’s hope for self-governance and a Brexit from the European Union is comparable to the Irish push for home rule a century ago, saying “People like to govern themselves, and within the European Union, you cannot do that.”

An MP who sat at Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet, Lawson spoke to Newstalk’s The Pat Kenny Show from his home in France. Though retired from politics, the 83-year-old is now that chair of the Vote Leave lobby group, and will be actively campaigning for Britons to vote to leave the European Union in the forthcoming referendum.

“The single most important thing, I believe, is self-government. And in democratic self-government,” Lawson said. “And within the European Union, that is not the case. We are subjected to European Laws, over which we have no control.

“The Republic of Ireland used to be part of the United Kingdom. And the people wanted self-government, and I regret it, in a sense,” the Conservative Party politician added.

“If we had been sensible enough to agree to the sort of form of devolution which we’re doing with Scotland now, I think the Irish people would have been very happy with that. But anyhow, that’s water under the bridge.”

Lawson spoke of the strong cultural and sentimental links between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, describing a “special relationship” that the UK shares with no other country.

When pressed on what a Brexit would mean for the border shared between southern and Northern Ireland, Lawson said that the UK having autonomy over its borders would allow the country to “let into the United Kingdom those who we wish to.

“The border is a legacy of partition, and in latter years, it played an important part in trying to check the efforts of the IRA, who have been operating on both sides of the border. I think there can be a very relaxed border, but I don’t think the Irish people have anything to worry about with the Brexit.”

Regarding another Scottish independence referendum, the potential of a Welsh one, and what the UK would look like consisting of just England and Northern Ireland, Lawson said that the economic values of the European Union were failing and unlikely to find favour with the plurality of British citizens.

“If the European system was so good for the economy, how is it the European Union is the slowest growing part of the world economy?”

You can listen back to Pat Kenny’s full interview with Lord Nigel Lawson below:

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