Letter: Britain in Europe

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The Independent Online
Sir: The letter on Europe (5 January) was profoundly impressive - until one looked at the text and the signatories. The former was riddled with the usual weary cliches. Not a word about the pounds 50bn in extra taxes that "harmonisation" of the tax base must entail (an unavoidable consequence of Economic Union, Clause 90, Maastricht Treaty).

The signatories, apart from two businessmen, are pretty firmly men of yesterday, but at least they are consistent. All were passionately in favour of the ERM experiment which just happened to cost one million (mainly working class) Brits their jobs, half a million their homes and drove 100,000 small and medium business into receivership.

That particular nostrum destroyed the Tories' traditional credibility for being economically smart, which 40 per cent of their electorate refused to forgive or forget last May.

When tipsters repeatedly propose three-legged donkeys, the smart punter refers to the form book. According to the Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development (OECD), Europe's vastly over-regulated economic form book is bad and getting worse (and no, deregulation will not take place in Europe, because under EU rules it cannot), while ours is good and getting better.

Finally, all your signatories were equally passionately opposed (when in office) to the British people being consulted by referendum on their own destiny. So what is this "when the British people freely vote to do so" all about?