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I guess we all missed this one

Posted by Helen Friday, April 29, 2005

Well, well, just look at that. Mr Blair actually referred to a European issue during the election campaign. Alas, it was so uninteresting, that nobody noticed.

Asked by Sky News, Mr Blair suggested in a slightly languid fashion that most probably there would be no referendum on the euro and, therefore, Britain would not go into economic and monetary union, should he be returned to Number 10.

He could not, it seems, recommend a yes vote because

“If the economics aren’t right, if it won’t help your country economically, you don’t do it.”
Furthermore, he did not expect any changes on that front in the foreseeable future (just reading this stuff makes one write in cliches).
“Now, at the moment there is no part of business and industry clamouring to say we need this for our economy, so it doesn’t look very likely. On the other hand,things can always change and the sensible thing to do is keep your options open.”
The following morning he tried to “clarify” his positiong during the daily press conference, explaining that
“Politically the case for going in is strong – economically we have to meet the tests.”
The Tories jumped on it, sort of. Oliver Letwin did say that there would be no joining the euro under the Conservatives because it would be bad for the economy. The Liberal Democrats announced that the Prime Minister should not prejudge the issue – there would have to be careful reports back to Parliament on the five tests and and a referendum.

Oh dear, one can’t help yawning. In the first place, the euro is not the issue at the moment. There are many other European problems, not least the Constitution.

In the second place, what is that strong political case for going in? Blair did not explain but, disgracefully, the Conservatives did not ask.

In the third place, why oh why are the main parties still pretending that the project is one of economics and the decisions are taken for economic reasons? Wouldn’t it be nice to have some grown-up politicians who treated the electorate as if they, too, were grown-up? Dream on.