Letter: Baffled by single currency

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your story "Feuds rack Tories as poll defeat looms" (2 May) shows that people in the UK are still very uncertain about the European single currency. They don't want to commit themselves now, but neither do they want to rule it out.

On one reading, this could be put down to a thoughtful "wait and see" attitude, with concerned citizens sagely discussing the pros and cons. But if you put your story side by side with a survey that the European Movement carried out in January, what emerges is a more believable picture of simple bafflement.

In our poll, two out of three Britons said they did not know enough about the single currency issue to vote confidently on the issue in a referendum. And again, over 60 per cent wanted to keep options open. This was despite the fact that people had heard more of the arguments against the concept than those in favour.

The subject has a mirage-like quality. Although it appears to be a hot topic, the substantive arguments are rarely discussed. How many people, for example, know that British interest rates are higher than Germany's and would be lower if we were part of a currency with less of a record for, or prospects of, inflation?

Britain needs a proper debate - in town halls, in schools and colleges, and above all in the media. The Government can promote such a debate without abandoning its neutrality and should do so. No one can complain about the result of a fair contest - and pro-Europeans believe that they will win if there is one. But it would be a tragedy if the issue were to be decided not by understanding and open debate but by ignorance and prejudice.

David Vigar

Director of Communications

The European Movement

London SW1