Britain and the Euro: On the Fringe

The British debate on joining the euro sails on – amidst tempests at home but on a rising tide of disinterest beyond. Is it possible that the latest decision on June 9 will be just a marker along the course to final disengagement from the European Union?

The World Today Updated 21 October 2020 Published 1 June 2003 3 minute READ

Graham Bishop

Adviser, European Financial Affairs, Salomon Brothers

For seven years, the British government has voiced its intention to be fully engaged at the centre of Europe. But there are turning points along the way that are fully recognised by virtually all other current and soon to be members. They see participation in the single currency as central to economic development as well as a pivotal political commitment to keeping on course.

Prime Minister Tony Blair makes occasional spirited forays into the politics of the issue – describing it as the national destiny – but then leaves it to Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown to assess in terms of narrow tests that must be passed ‘clearly and unambiguously’. Every economist knows that such a degree of certainty is impossible, so outsiders must be left wondering if there was ever a real intention to join. Will history record the original 1997 policy statement as the first marker along the divergence route?

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