Britain will use euro 'before long', says MacShane

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Denis MacShane, the minister for Europe, declared yesterday that Britain will be using the euro "in the not too distant future", reigniting speculation about an early referendum on the single currency.

Denis MacShane, the minister for Europe, declared yesterday that Britain will be using the euro "in the not too distant future", reigniting speculation about an early referendum on the single currency.

Mr MacShane told Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper: "I'm confident that before long Britain will be using the euro."

His comments will increase speculation that Gordon Brown will leave the door open to a referendum on euro entry even if he concludes that the Treasury's five economic tests have not yet been met. The Treasury's assessment could be published in two weeks' time.

But Mr MacShane hinted at a long run-up to a euro referendum, arguing that "leadership is about bringing the people with you".

He said: "In two or three years we will have elections, in which voters will be able to choose between a pro-European party and, barring surprises, an anti-European one."

He added: "A referendum would in any case require a long timescale, and we should ask ourselves if it is a good idea to conduct a campaign that would accentuate the divisions."

Mr MacShane's comments were published as more than 300 of the world's most eminent economists insisted that Britain had already passed the Treasury's five tests for euro entry.

Writing in The Independent, today Kenneth Clarke, a former Conservative chancellor, says: "Our economy is now more convergent with the major economies of Western Europe than ever." And he accuses Mr Brown of "suffering from quite uncharacteristic hesitation and indecisiveness".

Mr Clarke says: "If Gordon Brown pronounces that we must continue to 'wait and see' he must describe the next steps in the process and the broad timescale within which this is to be concluded. Timeless uncertainty is damaging to Britain's interests."

Comments