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Open Europe's Chairman and founder Lord Leach passed away recently. Below is a tribute to him compiled by the team. We all feel privileged to have known and worked with him.
It is with great sadness that we have lost our founder and Chairman Lord Leach, who passed away on 12 June after a short illness. Rodney will be sorely missed by all those who knew him and the debate about the future of Europe and Britain’s place in it will be poorer without him.
Rodney had many strings to his bow but his contribution to the development of British thinking about Europe cannot be overestimated. It is rare for one man to have made such an impact on such an important issue. Before founding Open Europe in 2005, Rodney established and chaired the Business for Sterling campaign to make the case against membership of the Single Currency. Prepared to challenge the conventional wisdom of large corporations and much of the political establishment, Rodney and Business for Sterling’s pivotal role in keeping Britain out of the Eurozone did the country a great service, for which those on either the Remain or the Leave side of the current EU debate can be thankful. His work campaigning for referenda on the EU Constitution and the Lisbon Treaty reflected his view that European integration is not sustainable without democratic consent.
Rodney always approached the European issue with a principled and cool-headed belief in the principles of democracy, internationalism and rationality. In search of establishing truths upon which people could make up their own minds, it is in this spirit Open Europe approached the EU referendum campaign. But his long-held conviction that European cooperation needs to become more flexible, less bureaucratic and defer more to the nation states if it is to accommodate diverse national democracies looks increasingly prescient.
Through his various political projects, Rodney was always keen to work with energetic and bright young people, many of whom have gone on to have high-flying careers in politics and beyond. At Open Europe he put together a multinational team and Advisory Council, reflecting a desire to make a truly European case for fundamental reform of the EU.
Above all, Rodney was a great man. It was a pleasure to get to know and work with him. His ability to explain and educate concisely and eloquently was valued by business and political leaders alike. He was an inspirational leader, and a man of great kindness, wisdom and courage. Not one for self-aggrandisement, he would no doubt be embarrassed by such high praise. We will all miss him.
The Open Europe team