Cabinet's weekend euro test: read 1.5m words

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Indy Politics

It is indeed the homework from hell. As students across the land revise their socks off for their GCSEs, every cabinet minister has just two days in which to read and digest the 1.5 million words, 2,500 pages and 18 volumes of Gordon Brown's preliminary and technical studies on British membership of the euro.

Like a bad exam dream made real, the men and women who make up the cream of the Government will face their very own last-minute essay crisis this weekend as they plough through the assessment before a grilling with the Chancellor and Tony Blair next week.

The 16kg (two and a half stones) of Treasury files were delivered last night to ministers as part of the Prime Minister's plan to give them as much information as possible before the decision on the euro is taken on 9 June.

Even if they didn't sleep, they would have to read one page a minute, or 10 words a second, to cover the entire contents by Monday morning. "It'll be like swotting up for your O-levels, A-levels, degree finals, driving test and Bar exams all rolled into one," said one minister yesterday.

For those in the Cabinet who don't know their economics arguments from their elbow, it could, of course, take a little longer.

Several ministers also have meetings or summits to attend this weekend.

But one special adviser said: "All those who do take a keen interest in the debate will be sitting down and reading it, there's no question about that."