Too many knowing commentators now assume that the Euro will fail. But not only will the euro survive its current difficulties, Britain will eventually join. We should not wait until the Euro has proved itself by surviving this test of fire, and join at some future moment of weakness. We should join now. Not only would we be able to name our price, but the commitment we would show would go a long way to calming the European economic storm, sooner rather than later.
What I have just written is a contemporary political heresy, to some perhaps even the babbling of a madman. To me however it is a statement of the bleeding obvious, and it is good to see former Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine saying something similar.
The euro will not fail. It won't be allowed to fail. Sure, some of the fiscal basketcases on the continental periphery have some tough years ahead - so do we - but that is because, like us, they borrowed in the good years as well as the lean years, leaving nothing in the bank when they needed it most. That is not down to the currency, it's down to bad economic management, and returning to the Drachma or the Lira would probably only deliver more pain, not less.
We will eventually join. It's inevitable. The current crisis will bind European nations together ever more tightly. There will be ever more scrutiny that countries using the Euro run their finances properly (a good thing... I wish we'd had that when Labour was spending beyond its means year after year). The decision for Britain will be this: do we adopt the Euro and, finally, assume our place as a big, European nation, fully committed to the European Union, or do we leave? The option of staying in but playing by other rules is not possible.
If we stay in, we will have to join the Euro. The alternative is exit, and isolation. Anti-Europeans frequently wave in front of the noses of the electorate the prospect of living in happy isolation, like Norway or Switzerland. Well, I don't want Britain to be Norway or Switzerland: powerless nations of little consequence or significance, who still need to obey EU rules if they want to sell goods or services into the European marketplace. Britain has always been a nation that involves itself in international affairs. It is a force for good in the World, and long may it remain so. Our long history as a trading nation has also made this virtue a necessity.
Entering the Euro now and not wanting for the inevitable to happen would be such welcome news to those on the other side of the Channel that we could name our price and help shape the new Europe that will emerge from this. The act of confidence in the currency and its permanence would also bolster everyone else.
I want Britain to stand alongside France and Germany, as a powerful nation in Europe, leading the way and setting the course for the continent as a whole. That is a positive future for this country, and we should embrace it.
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