LETTER: Referendum is a hurdle

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The Independent Online
I CANNOT understand how Alan Watkins (7 April) can say that "a referendum in the form in which it is proposed can be of benefit only to Mr Clarke and the Europhiles".

Without the referendum, three hurdles would have to be overcome for Britain to join the single currency in 1999: the convergence criteria must be met, the Cabinet must approve, and Parliament must also approve. Under the Government's proposal, a fourth hurdle of a referendum is erected. If any one of these four conditions is not met, Britain would not join.

It is perfectly possible that a Europhobic Cabinet will decide against joining, at a time when the majority of the electorate, fed up with having to change currencies whenever they cross a border, has swung in favour. In these circumstances the electorate would not be able to veto the decision not to join. I should be intrigued to hear the Teddy Taylors of this world explain how this was consistent with their "let the people decide" demands.

Alan Pavelin

Chislehurst, Kent