The European Union is useless, corrupt and riddled with fraud, Sir Bernard Ingham has said.
In a withering attack, Margaret Thatcher's former press secretary asked: "Why should the UK throw another £12 billion a year down these mafia and assorted criminal drains?"
Writing in the Yorkshire Post, Sir Bernard said that in his renegotiations, David Cameron was asking for too little and would get less.
"Europhiles might usefully address themselves not to the question why we should stay in the EU, but why we should ever want to be a member of it at all when the institution is corrupt and so riddled with fraud that the auditors have felt unable to sign off its accounts for nigh on 20 years.
"It is dedicated to exactly what we do not want - ever closer union. It has already wrecked much of Europe's economy, though not the UK's, with its single currency, and has generated politically dangerous levels of unemployment in its southern states."
He said the EU was amassing powers at the expense of the member states, and had substantially usurped the authority of those parliaments, with potentially damaging consequences for Western democracy.
Sir Bernard also said the EU was largely useless when it came to international action, even though it pretended to have a foreign service.
"The present EU model is a discredited mess and everyone knows we cannot go on like this.
"What is so frightening about standing on our own two feet in a developing world, trading with whom we like? What are our tycoons afraid of? What is so alarming about the British Government, monitored by the Westminster Parliament, recovering its power to govern the British people?"