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: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Beware of the jovial buffoon who picks fights overseas

Boyd Tonkin
 

My shameful failure to live up to the spirit of Christmas

Howard Jacobson
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all