Now give us our say on the euro

Share

This weekend, British Eurosceptics are cock-a-hoop at Denmark's rejection of the euro. The Tories and their friends in the press argue that the result will damage the Labour Party. John Major on Radio 4's
Today programme argues that the result will extinguish any prospect of a British referendum for the foreseeable future.

This weekend, British Eurosceptics are cock-a-hoop at Denmark's rejection of the euro. The Tories and their friends in the press argue that the result will damage the Labour Party. John Major on Radio 4's Today programme argues that the result will extinguish any prospect of a British referendum for the foreseeable future.

But hold on a minute. With all this excited chatter about "people power", the Tories seem to be forgetting something. It is Labour - not the Conservatives - who are offering the British people the opportunity of "doing a Denmark". Tory policy is to deny the British a say on this crucial issue. The Tory "referendum" has only one voter - William Hague - and he has already made his choice: no choice.

Tony Blair, on the other hand, is offering the entire British electorate the chance to vote on this monumental issue. Far from the Danish result knocking Mr Blair's nerve, we hope that it will prompt him to go further - and guarantee that a referendum will be held in the next Parliament, even if all of the Chancellor's five economic tests have not been met. The flaw in the Government's argument is that each of the five tests has equal weight. Only when all five have been passed will Mr Brown allow a popular vote. But what if four of the tests are passed? What if the convergence criteria are met, and it is agreed that the British economy and jobs market will benefit from entry, but it isn't yet certain that the financial services industry will benefit? Is Mr Brown really going to deny us the opportunity to vote on the euro for the sake of a handful of City traders? People would rightly be furious at the Government's intransigence.

Of course the Danish result is a blow to those who insist that fuller European integration is inevitable and welcome. It makes a two-speed Europe, at least for a while, almost certain, and ensures that Britain will not be left alone on the sidelines. It gives a fillip to the sceptics, who can argue that the Danes have proved that there are political qualms about the single currency - not just the economic ones that Mr Blair insists are the sole factor.

But we hope that careful analysis of the Danish vote will also give some cheer to those beyond the swivel-eyed tendency. First, the massive turnout in Denmark proves that people understand and care about the single currency. They relish the right to vote on the issue. Referendums are popular - and people should have their democratic right to a say.

Second, it is highly relevant that there now seems no prospect of a general election in Denmark, despite the government's defeat in the referendum. It has long been assumed in British constitutional circles that a referendum on the euro would be a matter of confidence - that Mr Blair would have to call an election if the euro were rejected. But there is no reason why this should be so. If the Cabinet recommends euro entry, but they have the maturity to give the voters the final say, then a defeat need not be terminal for the Government. If Labour wins a general election next May, it will have received an endorsement of its manifesto for a full term. For a referendum rebuff to trigger another election would be wrong.

This has not been the triumphant week for Labour that the party managers would have liked. But we hope Mr Blair will look beyond the headlines and polls, remember that he will still win an election next year - and stiffen his resolve to hold a referendum early in the next Parliament, giving every British voter, not just William Hague, a say.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
 

Never underestimate the power of the National Trust

Boyd Tonkin
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss