Letter: Tories and Europe

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Sir: As someone who has worked all my adult life in a great industry (agriculture) now being destroyed by an overvalued currency and high interest rates, I find the response of the current Tory leadership to the EMU debate completely incomprehensible. I also find the Labour Chancellor Gordon Brown's caution on the issue irritating.

Can Hague, Howard et al not see that to have a single market totally free of tariff controls, which they say they support, and 15 fluctuating currencies within it is a recipe for disaster? It is simply a charter for those countries with weak currencies to undercut their neighbours with stronger ones at will. It is remarkable how quickly this situation can bring multi-billion pound industries like farming to their knees. It is no way to build a healthy, modern economy in the global marketplace.

The UK benefited mightily from devaluation in 1992, but now the boot is on the other foot and it hurts. Why do we need this economic rollercoaster ride when we can have stability?

A number of Mr Hague's current and past colleagues obviously see this, as we were reminded by their recent letter (5 January). How much more damage to British industry will it take before Mr Hague accepts the all- too-obvious logic of the Single Currency? It will not do to fall back on the argument of the ERM debacle, since that mechanism had the one great weakness that EMU will not have - attempted currency stability achieved by market intervention, which proved ineffective.

The UK rural economy in particular depends on exports. At the moment we are dying for the lack of those exports. What good is Mr Hague's precious notional sovereignty of keeping the pound, if large areas of the nation are laid economically waste? Let us have currency stability and lower interest rates before it's too late.

JAMES GIBSON-WATT

Hay-on-Wye

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