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Not so innocent?

Posted by Richard Monday, July 02, 2007

You can take the source with a pinch of salt, but The People newspaper indicates that Gordon Brown might be considering scrapping the pound in favour of the euro.

It bases its report on a claim that his "top sidekick" Ed Balls has sent a memorandum to ministers warning them Brown wants to take another look at the "five key tests" to be satisfied before signing up to the euro. It was, we are told, one of Mr Balls's final acts while still a Treasury minister and before being made Schools Secretary in the new Cabinet on Thursday.

One senior (unnamed) minister is cited as saying: "We were told he was going to test the tests again. That doesn't mean we plan to join up. But it does mean we are to look again at whether we should."

The paper then adds that, in Brussels, Mr Brown's move will be welcomed as a political masterstroke. It thus cites an EU Commission source, who explained: "It draws the fire away from those campaigning for a referendum on the new constitutional treaty … Brown has already promised a referendum if he decides to ditch the pound."

This, of course, may be political fluff – no other paper had picked it up at the time of writing, but there again The People could just be on to something.

It is an article of faith, based on Brown's reputed stance against the euro, that he is less enamoured by the "project" than his predecessor Tony Blair. But, despite attempts to engineer a rift between Brown and Blair over the mandate negotiations in the European Council, now just over a week ago, Brown has both supported the mandate and resisted calls for a referendum.

Since then, he has appointed arch-Europhile David Miliband to the post of foreign secretary, putting him in poll position to negotiate the new treaty draft, backed by tranzie-lover Malloch-Brown.

With all that behind him, if there is any truth in the People's report, it could be that Mr Brown is a lot more of a Europhile than has been so far apparent, and we could be dealing with a man who, when it comes to the European Union, is not so innocent as some would have us believe.

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