Redwood's single currency warnings leave CBI unmoved

Dire warnings of an impending economic nightmare if the UK joined a single European currency received little obvious support from CBI delegates in Harrogate yesterday in a clear sign of confidence in monetary union.

The CBI's high-profile debate on EMU saw John Redwood and Sir John Hoskyns, chairman of the Burton group and a former adviser to Lady Thatcher, putting the Eurosceptic case across the table from two leading advocates of EMU, Sir David Simon, chairman of BP and Peter Sutherland, chairman of investment bankers Goldman Sachs International and former head of the Gatt world trade organisation.

Mr Redwood claimed the switch to the euro would cost UK firms billions of pounds with only marginal benefits in terms of reduced transaction costs. Arguing that the underlying agenda of Helmut Kohl, the German Chancellor, was political, he said: "He wants to build a country called Europe, governed from a City called Brussels with its economy directed from a bank in Frankfurt."

If Britain stepped up its opposition to EMU, Mr Redwood suggested the Government could still have a slim chance of stopping the single currency altogether.

The biggest applause, however, came after Sir David's rousing pro-European speech, liberally sprinkled with cricketing metaphors, and a savage attack on Britain's long history of currency devaluations. Sir David said fixing the pound to the ecu would act as a spur to business competitiveness, no longer shielded by a depreciating pound.

"If devaluation was the key to successful economic management we should be the wealthiest country in Europe, bar none," he argued.

He concluded: "We can't be half pregnant. Sooner or later we will have to make a choice. There isn't an option of sitting on the fence, both ears to the ground, waiting for the iron to enter our soul."

Mr Sutherland said Britain should join the single currency in the first wave in 1999, insisting that the UK had given up its sovereignty by signing up to the Single European Act and agreeing to extend qualified majority voting.

"If the issue of sharing sovereignty is raised in principle as opposed to its application then the debate is really about membership of the Union," argued Mr Sutherland. However, Mr Redwood denied that he was calling for Britain to leave the EU altogether.

The blackest warnings of economic doom came from Sir John Hoskyns, who claimed EMU was "a complete dud" and "the biggest defensive merger of all time". Changing the currency would cost retailers across the EU pounds 22bn, Sir John estimated. He said EMU was the result of "self-deception, sloppy thinking and creative accounting".

Just one delegate spoke from the floor in favour of the Redwood and Hoskyns side, with seven speeches backing Sir David and Mr Sutherland.

The reaction endorsed the CBI's opinion poll this week showing 56 per cent of firms supporting the principle of EMU. Despite this, as the conference closed, CBI leaders continued to back the "wait and see" approach adopted by the Government and Labour. "The reason we didn't put the issue to a vote on the conference floor is that the pro-EMU side would have won so decisively," a CBI source admitted.

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
i100
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

1st Line Support Technician / Application Support

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider of web based m...

Team Secretary - (Client Development/Sales Team) - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices