‘The problem is that the EU has become extremely bureaucratic,’ [Archbishop Smith] told Vatican Radio. ‘With this real fundamental desire to become more integrated, like a European [United] States – that, many of us find hard to swallow.

‘I don’t think that is the right thing to do,’ he said.

‘The euro hasn’t worked particularly with the poorer countries in Europe – Greece, Portugal, Spain to an extent. It is not working with the euro and all of us are glad that we didn’t go into the euro because of the different economies on the continent of Europe.

I am very sceptical of the arguments the Chancellor makes. When he does a budget each year very often by the end of the year his forecasts are all over the place.

‘When you look at the budgets even after 12 months very often the Chancellor is wrong because you can’t pin the economy down like that because it is so involved with the world economy which goes up and down.’

He added: ‘Most people are completely puzzled. They don’t know what the real arguments are and then they hear these scare stories like the Chancellor saying in 14 years’ time we will £4,000 plus less (worse off).

‘With great respect to the Chancellor of the Exchequer I think it is ludicrous. He doesn’t know, and we don’t know.’

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