The euro is a good idea launched at a judicious moment. The tragedy is that, once again, the British political and media establishment have made sure Britain is not in a vital European project at the beginning.
GOVERNMENT MINISTERS have repeatedly assured us that we will not join the single currency without a referendum. They know that the British people are against giving up the pound, and the sovereignty that goes with it. Yet Treasury plans are moving relentlessly forward, making a referendum look redundant. If Tony Blair really expects a vote in favour of the euro in three years, he's got a lot of explaining to do first.
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BY THE time the Government presents the public with a referendum choice, it could effectively be a fait accompli. That would be wrong. Long before we reach that stage, Mr Blair has to explain why he maintains that Britain could join the euro yet progress no further towards federalism, while most other European politicians see it differently.
Above all, he must not allow Britain to drift into monetary union without a proper public debate. Anything less would be a disgrace.
THE NATIONAL governments are so likely to block each other over any dispute with the European Central Bank that the latter need not fear their interference at all. Jointly all-powerful, the governments are severally impotent.
So the euro is likely to be the hardest of hard currencies, kept that way by the cruellest, most persistent deflation. What an outcome from all the hopes that European unity once evoked!