Running Scared of the People's Verdict
Heffer, Simon, Daily Mail (London)
Byline: SIMON HEFFER
OPPOSITION to the euro in Britain is running at two or three to one, and so the Government is having to resort to desperate measures to try to convince our European partners that, one day, we shall join too. That is why Minister for Europe Peter Hain has suggested that, with the 'successful' launch of the euro, the demise of the pound is only a matter of time.
The 'inevitability argument' - for that is what Mr Hain is using - has been knocking around the pro-euro lobby for the last few years. As soon as it was clear the euro was not the supercurrency its adherents had claimed (it has devalued by around 13 per cent since its launch three years ago), and once people grasped the constitutional and democratic implications, another means of persuasion was needed.
To say we shall end up doing something because 12 other countries are doing it is hardly a logical or compelling argument. Yet the Government manifestly hopes that this will be the best way of getting people to vote Yes in a referendum.
Now, and for the foreseeable future, the Government would be terrified to have that referendum. For if it were to lose, as undoubtedly it would, it would not only impair Mr Blair's standing in Europe, but have implications for Labour's credibility and for the result of the next election.
The case for the euro is, for the moment, pure propaganda. With predictable help from the BBC, which in its flag-waving for the currency has sounded this last few days like the provisional wing of the European Commission, the Government is hoping to convince people it will be impossible to carry on as a modern trading nation unless we ditch the pound.
It is so convenient, the proponents argue, to bring your foreign currency home from holiday in Spain, France or Italy and then spend it in your own high street. Also, there can be no mystery about the real cost of buying goods abroad when they are priced in denominations familiar from home.
However, the euro is about much more than the trivial matter of buying your croissants or tapas or pasta in the same currency as you can spend in Marks and Spencer.
We have the inevitability argument only because the Government is afraid to engage in the argument that really matters: the one about our democratic rights, and the high cost in political and economic sovereignty. …