Grudge match kicks off for the euro cup

It's a game of two halves and plenty of injury time. Jason Nissé looks at the crack teams contesting the future of the pound
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The Independent Online

The referee, Tony Blair, blew his whistle for the start of the match between the pro- and anti-euro teams just before Labour's resounding election victory. But it has taken until now for the Yes team to emerge from the sidelines and start playing. A letter signed by 50 top City figures in favour of the euro kicked the grudge match off at the beginning of last week, and this was followed by the pro-euro Ken Clarke's declaration that he was running for the Tory leadership.

But the No side has countered with a few more economic arguments, the odd well-known supporter and some heavy rebuttal. Detailed research from economist Roger Bootle and former Financial Times journalist David Lascelles has given the No campaign the intellectual high ground in recent weeks.

The Yes campaign, though, is likely to fight back, signing star players such as Sir Richard Branson and James Dyson.

Mr Blair says he is in favour of a referendum on the euro and then, if the conditions are right, joining it. You can't get much less committal than that. In keeping the game fair he has two assistant referees. One is Digby Jones, the CBI boss who has sat so firmly on the fence that he might find it hard to get off it. However, he has successfully moved the boss's body away from the pro-euro position of his predecessor at the CBI, Adair Turner. The other assistant is Sir Eddie George. The Bank of England Governor is suspected to be a No, but has shown some Yes tendencies recently, so his views can't be accurately gauged.

They should keep the fight fair. But with Mr Blair committed to applying Gordon Brown's famous five tests in the near future, and a referendum to come after that, this game will go into extra time.

Yes: It's a 5-3-2 formation featuring a crowd-pleaser, an Irish wizard and a tough-tackling captain

Goalie

Lord Marshall. Chairman of BA, Invensys and a gaggle of other firms. A safe pair of hands, though prone to turfing protégés out the team ­ ask Bob Ayling.

Right back

Lord Brittan. Back from Brussels where he went native. The ex Tory Home Secretary might be expected to be anti-euro but leads the new City in Europe group.

Left back

Robin Cook. More like left behind after his demotion from Foreign Secretary. Clashed with Gordon Brown over the euro and that is supposedly what did for him.

Libero

Sir Richard Branson. Could be the secret weapon of the Yes campaign as it aims to add some popular players. Expect Sir Richard and James Dyson to sign up soon.

Central defender

Lord Simon of Highbury. Former BP boss who has recently gone back into government after a spell in the political wilderness. He will pull in the big business vote.

Central defender

Charles Kennedy. A less than secret weapon, he had a good election and his popularity could be key to the undecided "man in the lounge bar with a double whisky" vote.

Midfielder and captain

Peter Mandelson. Now out of government he can use his spin and rebuttal skills to add some steel to what has been a rather limp campaign so far.

Creative midfielder

Chris Huhne. MEP and former business editor of 'The Independent', he has spilt ink in the euro's cause. There are worries, though, about his low level of accurate passes.

Striker

Niall Fitzgerald. The Irish wizard peppers the opposition with fierce shots. Tends to get offside, as with the pre-euro price rises announced by his firm, Unilever.

Striker

Ken Clarke. Says his campaign for the Tory leadership is not about the euro, but we all know different. Popular with the blokes on the terraces.

Right winger

Chris Gent. Ex chairman of the Young Conservatives and now Vodafone boss, he said he voted Tory despite its stance on the euro and is campaigning for change.

No: Traditional English 4-4-2 featuring a strong right flank, a star Spaniard and a veteran striker

Goalie

Conrad Black. Not the safest pair of hands but a stern shot stopper, mixing Catholic philosophy with a larger-than- life presence. Few would argue with his anti-euro challenge.

Right back

John Redwood. He fell from grace in the Tory party, but a fierce intellect and a willingness to write 1,500 words at short notice mean he is there to stop the Yes team's advances.

Left back

Gordon Brown. The No's secret weapon. Phrases like "pro-euro realism" are intended to confuse. May change sides if it means he has a better chance of becoming PM.

Midfielder

David Yelland. 'Sun' editor promotes his boss's views with varying levels of accuracy. Fears that he may be substituted mid-match cannot be discounted.

Central defender

Paul Sykes. Property and internet tycoon ploughing tens of millions of his beloved pounds into saving the currency. Won't pull out of a tackle but tends to pick up yellow cards.

Central defender

Michael Portillo. Star signing from La Liga, the Tory contender hopes to keep the pound out of Europe and put himself in No 10. The former is more likely than the latter.

Creative midfielder

Sir John Craven. After his merchant bank was taken over by the Germans, Sir John turned against Europe. Now runs a mining business with most of its interests in South Africa.

Striker

Ruth Lea. Active economist, now at the IoD, she's always on hand to pop a quick quote into the back of the net, though her style of play is becoming rather familiar.

Striker and captain

Sir Stanley Kalms. The warhorse may be near to retirement from his team, Dixons, but there is no doubting his battling abilities and willingness to take on the opposition.

Left winger

Janet Bush. Former economics editor of 'The Times', she was given time off to set up New Europe, one of the key No groups. Liked it so much she stayed.

Right winger

Patrick Minford. So extreme he virtually plays from the stands, the economist sees the euro as an evil which must be destroyed. Arguments can be incomprehensible.

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