WHAT PRICE the euro? Too high at pounds 10bn, say small and medium businesses. They don't want to pay that to make computers euro-compliant when we may never join. These are firms creating jobs and we don't want them squeezed out by "might-be" expenses. Not many trade direct with Europe. So who will be delighted with Tony Blair's growing devotion to the euro? Only giant multinationals who are shedding jobs and hope trading in euros cuts costs further.
Mr Blair will talk tough about tax and welfare opt-outs. History tells a different story. Whatever Europe wants, Europe gets... eventually.
HE DIDN'T say Yes and he didn't say No. Tony Blair said Maybe. He really meant it to sound like Probably. But everyone is certain he said Definitely. Confused? Aren't we all? The Prime Minister is a gambler. Staking his euros on Britain's entry into the common currency could be his most dangerous political punt of all. He is putting his own personal charisma and voter- appeal on the line by asking the still-sceptical British electorate to follow him into Europe and is betting the Government's future by turning the next general election into a single-issue campaign - Europe.
THE PM has fired the starting gun for his attempt to take Britain into monetary union. The euro, he says, is "a reality"; Britain must prepare to be part of it. Mr Blair has now given the lobbyists for EMU the signal they have long demanded, starting a process designed to convince voters that entry is a foregone conclusion.
Inevitability is one of the most seductive mantras of European politics. To go with the flow is the greatest desire of European politicians. To be left out of a seemingly inevitable European unification is almost the greatest fear of this modern British Prime Minister.
MR BLAIR is not a European fanatic. He wants only one thing - to do what is best for Britain. "The national interest will always come first," he said yesterday. But it is not in the national interest to refuse to have anything to do with the euro. Or to ignore the preparations needed before it can be introduced. The final say will be with the people in a referendum.
But Mr Blair would be failing in his duty if he did not insist that we got ready for the single currency. It will be up to the people to decide this country's destiny. The Prime Minister is simply pointing them in the right direction.
The Daily Telegraph
IN HIS long statement to the Commons, Tony Blair failed to come up with a single good reason why such a plan to take us into the single currency is necessary at this stage. His arguments would seem to imply that, at the moment, Europe is unfit for us. Logic, however, has never been Mr Blair's strongest suit. What concerns him is how to swing a referendum that could make or break his premiership. Mr Blair is hoping to edge us, unresisting, in the direction of the euro until it is too late to turn back. It is not too early to resist him.
ONCE THE storm has subsided after the words from the Prime Minister, it will be recognised that he has merely said openly what he has always been known to believe in private. The timing of a British move remains uncertain and it is still much too early to be sure how the euro's fortunes will progress. Yet there are already signs of growing alarm in the City about the future of British business outside the euro.
If this sentiment grows, it will greatly assist Mr Blair. He will be able to proclaim that he is the champion of reality against the dinosaurs of nationalism. In any event, it is welcome that today he is making plain his aspirations.Reuse content