Hague pressured to adopt hard line on Europe
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Thursday 23 September 1999
Some senior Tories believe Mr Hague will use the commission's findings to beef up his current policy to rule out joining the euro in this Parliament and the next. "This leaves the door open for a harder line," one party source said. But such a move could provoke a bitter pre-election split with Tory pro-Europeans, led by Kenneth Clarke and Michael Heseltine.
The independent commission, chaired by Sir John Nott, the former cabinet minister, said Britain should stay out of the single currency "for the foreseeable future". The commission's report said that it would be "a supreme folly if we were to give up what remains of this country's economic independence".
Mr Hague said the findings were a "powerful vindication" of his current policy. But they also provided ammunition for Tory Eurosceptics, led by Baronesst Thatcher, who want to push Mr Hague into saying Britain should never sign up to economic and monetary union.
Sir John insisted there was no difference between his team's report and Mr Hague's policy. But he went further at a press conference, saying it was highly unlikely there would ever be sustainable convergence of the British economy and the rest of Europe. He said he could not see any circumstances where he would change his mind about British membership for 10 years.
Mr Hague said there was no reason for him to rule out joining the euro beyond the next Parliament. "We don't need to rule it out for ever. What we are talking about is what happens at the next general election. If elected, a Conservative government would keep the pound."
The Nott commission said EMU would inevitably lead to political union. "Britain will prosper with the pound. We would lose global influence if we joined the euro," it said.
The report was published as "Britain in Europe," the embryo Yes campaign for a single currency referendum, denied Tory claims that it was "a shambles" because of internal differences over its decision to tone down its support for the euro to win Tony Blair's backing.
Stephen Woodard, who is leaving his job as director of the pro-EU European Movement, dismissed speculation his departure was connected to the report's decision to soften its pro-euro rhetoric. Simon Buckby, the campaign's director, added: "[The report] Britain in Europe has built an historic coalition. The anti-Europeans are clearly rattled that Britain in Europe has cemented such an impressive alliance to argue to pro-European case."
Leading article, Review, page 3
Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando
Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck
World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'
First full-length look is finally here
"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star
Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses
The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
Mia Khalifa: Pornhub star claims Drake sent her 'cringeworthy' naked photos on Instagram
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Gas Installation Manager is r...
£29000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Service and Brea...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for an Engineering M...