Under what circumstances will people continue to hold this view? If the euro proves a success? If sterling returns to its historical position as a soft currency, vulnerable to speculators and declining against the world's major currencies? If inflation and interest rates in the UK surge higher than in those countries that are part of a single currency? If inward investment falls due to inevitable resentment over the UK's semi- detached position? If the UK is pushed to the margins of EU decision-making? If British industry finds itself at a competitive disadvantage?
It is not surprising that there is opposition to economic and monetary union and even to the European Union as a whole. Successive Conservative governments and mass-circulation newspapers, several of them foreign-owned, have consistently rubbished the European integration process in favour of an atavistic appeal to nostalgia, English nationalism and xenophobia.
The debate on the merits of a single currency has hardly begun. The Blair government must pitch into this debate with honesty and courage. Only then is there any likelihood of a change in the public perception of what is in our long-term interests.
Senior Lectururer in European Integration Studies
University College of Ripon and York St John, YorkReuse content