UK entry to EMU on hold till after election
Sunday 28 September 1997
This is the line being discreetly put about at Westminster, despite predictions that the Government is keen to strike a more enthusiastic early posture on the issue.
Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, is "relaxed" about leaked reports from ministers that the Cabinet is moving towards a more conciliatory posture on European monetary union.
Treasury aides formally dismissed stories that unsettled the pound on Friday as "pure speculation", but privately expressed satisfaction that the idea of Britain moving more swiftly towards acceptance had proved so useful to the Government.
The speculation caused the pound to fall, but the stock market rose - a virtuous cycle of activity that neatly fell into line with government strategy. "A lower pound takes pressure off interest rates," said a senior source.
But reports of an impending announcement that could signal UK entry into a single European currency towards the year 2000 were strongly discounted. It now looks more likely that the Chancellor will issue a formal statement of intent this year, spelling out Britain's willingness in principle to take part in monetary union, but only when the terms and the timing are right. In practice, say sources, Labour's promise of a referendum on joining the euro is unlikely to be realised this side of an election - on the grounds that the Government will not risk losing office on a single political issue, however fundamental.
"It could be before or after the election, but not during," said a party insider. "You wouldn't do it during an election." At most, it looks probable that Mr Brown will publish a strategy paper outlining the alternatives, but coming down in favour of the principle of joining. This may not happen until early 1998, when Britain takes over the presidency of the European Union.
Labour calculates that the Tories could be wrong-footed on the euro, whenever the Government makes its move, short of putting abolition of the pound in a general election manifesto. "William Hague will have to do a U-turn, or he will be stuffed," said a Whitehall source.
Peter Lilley, the Shadow Chancellor, has laid down a remarkably flexible Opposition line. After rejecting EMU, he said: "Conservatives are pragmatists, and if the facts were to change, we would have to consider them very carefully."
- 1 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 2 It won’t work, Jeremy: The Health Secretary has lost the confidence of the medical profession in his attempt to reform the NHS
- 3 Kim Jong-un awarded global statesmanship prize by Indonesia
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
Nasa discovers yet another rocky exoplanet, and it's only 21 light years away
Labour rallies behind Flint as deputy leader to offset a Corbyn win
Kim Jong-un awarded global statesmanship prize by Indonesia
Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
Calais crisis: Migrants that have made it to the UK reveal how Britain has matched their expectations
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality
iJobs Money & Business
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£13000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about custom...
£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Main purpose: Under the directi...
£35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City...