Ed Balls: British jobs depend on the Greek rescue plan's success

Share
Related Topics

A vital European summit. The stability of the global economy at stake. British jobs and wider economic interests hang in the balance. And neither the British Prime Minister nor the Chancellor was at the meeting. Nor do they seem to have made any effort to be there.

Their absence was a betrayal not only of the British national interest, but a betrayal too of the legacy of their predecessors – both Labour and Conservative.

It was our Treasury that led the way on global financial reform after the Asian crisis and the Russian default. Britain was at the centre of world efforts to stabilise the global oil price after the Iraq war. And when the big test came it was Britain that led the way – both through policy and persuasion – to ensure the collapse of Lehman Brothers did not drive the world into depression.

But Ken Clarke, Norman Lamont, John Major and Nigel Lawson can equally claim to have played their full part on the global economic stage. Remember the huge influence that Nigel Lawson had on the Plaza and Louvre agreements to stabilise the dollar after 1985.

The Osborne Treasury feebly counters that Britain is not a member of the euro, so of course David Cameron was not invited. But it was already clear that Britain would not join the first wave of the euro when Ken Clarke banged the table to get the EU Stability Pact agreed at the 1996 Dublin summit. With Britain outside the euro, it was Gordon Brown who consistently made the case for reform of the Stability and Growth Pact. And Alistair Darling was at the centre of Europe's response to the global banking crisis.

So what is really going on? One explanation is that David Cameron and George Osborne have been distracted by the hacking scandal and the fight to save their reputations. But their absence from the European economic debate has been clear for months, not weeks. And just as they have no growth plan in Britain, nor have they pushed for one in Europe.

Another is that George Osborne was happy last autumn to sit back and see the euro collapse into crisis as a vindication of his rapid deficit reduction plan. Sadly, since then, the UK recovery has stalled. The last thing our Chancellor needs is a euro crisis to drag down further Britain's stalling economy.

It was the Prime Minister's remarks to the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers last week that gave the game away. This is the reported Cameron plan: stand back, wait for a new EU treaty to deepen euro area fiscal ties and use that chance to renegotiate the terms of British membership.

This is a disaster waiting to happen. British jobs and investments depend on our full membership of the single market. Already British business is worried that the UK is not punching its weight on vital reforms. And we should be prioritising getting a better EU budget settlement than last month's ill-judged and out-of-touch proposals.

No wonder Nick Clegg is worried about the direction of government policy on Europe. We all should be. If Thursday's Greek rescue plan does not work – and my worry is that it could turn out to be another sticking plaster – thousands of British jobs could be at risk.

But if David Cameron and George Osborne use this crisis to undermine Britain's EU membership, the economic and wider consequences will be much graver.



Ed Balls is the Shadow Chancellor

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Seven per cent of young men have recently stopped using deodorant  

‘Sweaty-gate’ leaves a bad smell for PRs and journalists

Danny Rogers
Alison Parker and Adam Ward: best remembered before tragedy  

The only way is ethics: Graphic portraits of TV killings would upset many, not just our readers in the US

Will Gore
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory