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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Lawson the Legend: The 'Unassailable' Face of the Boom Times

Nigel-Lawson Lord Lawson of Blaby

Vale Nigel Lawson, Lord Lawson of Blaby. One of the leading lights of Thatcherism, Cabinet Minister of the highest esteem, and a renowned journalist, Lord Lawson has rightly earned his place in history as one of the most significant Chancellors of the Exchequer in modern British history.

Lord Lawson was one of the longest serving Chancellors since David Lloyd George, serving for over 6 years, and left an indelible mark on a nation that had first elected the Conservative Party to government in 1979. A tax-reforming Chancellor and a believer that lower taxes could drive growth, he controversially reduced the rate of income tax from 29p to 25p, and the top rate to 40p. He has since won tributes from Lord Macpherson, the former Treasury Permanent Secretary, who wrote that "His microeconomic reforms particularly on tax were both daring and substantial, and have stood the test of time". Former Head of the Mrs Thatcher's Policy Unit Sir John Redwood MP paid tribute to Lord Lawson, writing that "[Lawson] showed how to grow the economy by cutting tax rates and freeing people to be self employed or expand a business."

One is to note that this 40p top rate of tax was retained budget after budget, government after government, and only changed to 45p in the evening of the Brown premiership - a testament to the lasting impact Lord Lawson had on the traditionally tax-keen Treasury consensus.

Lord Lawson's legacy exists beyond the Conservative Party and his crucial years at the helm of the Treasury. In 1989, he resigned over disagreements he had with Mrs Thatcher had and her Economic Adviser, Professor Alan Walters. He had, at the time, been in favour of British membership of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, something that Professor Walters had publicly criticised. In his online diary, Sir John Redwood wrote that "It was also necessary in my view to change the way the Economic Adviser role was performed. Alan [Walters] had allowed or encouraged himself to be part of the public story. He got himself involved in the crucial relationship of PM to Chancellor in a way which made it difficult for the Chancellor." Despite previously supporting the ERM, he would go on to become a fervent supporter of Brexit, Chairing the Vote Leave organisation during the Brexit referendum.

While he had his disagreements with Mrs Thatcher and faced criticism from her Press Secretary, the late Sir Bernard Ingham, his unforgettable role in fundamentally reforming Britain's economy makes his tenure in government one of the most impactful in recent history. His views evolved: While he was initially critical of Mrs Thatcher's euroscepticism and opposition to ERM membership, much like his Treasury predecessor the late Lord Howe was, he became a Eurosceptic, critical of benefits of continuing membership, arguing in a 2016 Guardian article that "The idea that somehow it's an economic asset to us to be in the EU is, I think, bizarre. The EU has never made economic sense."

Lord Lawson attended Westminster School and went up to Christ Church, Oxford, on a Maths scholarship and took a first in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He service his two years of National Service as an Officer in the Royal Navy. He went on to become a prominent journalist, writing for the Lex column in the Financial Times, before becoming City Editor of the Sunday Telegraph. His first foray into Conservative politics came as a speechwriter to Prime Ministers Harold Macmillan and Sir Alec Douglas-Home, witnessing the infamous 1962 Night of the Long Knives and the Profumo Affair. After a 4-year stint as Editor of The Spectator, and a few attempts to win a seat in Parliament, he was eventually elected Member of Parliament for Blaby in Leicestershire, where he was immediately recognised as an erudite parliamentary performer.

He served as Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Secretary of State for Energy before taking up the position of Chancellor, and would serve in Parliament until 1992. In 1999, he set up the Global Warming Policy Foundation, serving as its Chairman (a role in which he remained very active in the organisation), and sought to bring an alternative, sceptical view to climate change policies of the day.

The spirit of Lord Lawson lives on and the search for a long-term growth solution and the rejection of declinism continues. Vale Nigel Lawson. 

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