A prominent economist says the UK should seriously consider quitting the European Union as the crisis in the eurozone could continue for another 10 years.
In talks to MPs at the Foreign Affairs committee, Cardiff University economist Patrick Minford rejected suggestions that the UK could renegotiate the terms of its membership from within the EU.
He said Britain should “leave” and then negotiate a trading arrangement on a “clean sheet of paper”.
Prof Minford warned that the rescue and reform process in the eurozone could take “five to 10 years”.
“We, I think, here tend to overestimate the chances of the euro breaking up. The countries that are most likely to leave in the first instance - say, Greece or Portugal - are absolutely determined to stay in for political reasons”, he said.
The Cardiff University economist stressed that the UK’s membership is hurting the economy.
“We are suffering economically from being inside the European Union because it’s a protectionist organisation. A lot of people don’t understand this”, he said.
“They think that somehow when you join this single-market this is a pro-free trade action. In fact, what happens is we are joining a customs union. A customs union raises prices inside the tariff wall of the European Union”, Prof Minford said, adding that “It keeps out competition from the rest of the world.”
He voiced concern about future regulation within the eurozone, which he said “will further damage Britain’s competitiveness”.
“My fear is that we are going to see a lot more regulation coming from Europe, particularly in financial affairs. One of the things I think is really needed domestically is to create once again a competitive banking system which is not over-regulated and prevented from lending”, he added.
The economist noted that previous attempts to reform the EU have proved to be total failure.
“I think we are in a very difficult position. The way in which the EU has developed economically has not been according to the concept we had in mind when we pressed the single market on everybody”, he said.
“I think it was a mistake to join really and I think we should just leave”, said the economist.