How about some euro credit for Gordon Brown?
My Independent colleague Mary Ann Sieghart wrote a vigorous column in Monday’s newspaper demanding a public display of contrition from those politicians who were in favour of Britain joining the European single currency.
If the likes of Tony Blair, Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne, Peter Mandelson and Michael Heseltine had had their way and shackled Britain to the euro, says Mary Ann, the British economy would now be in a still worse condition:
“It is painfully clear now that for Britain to have joined the euro would have been a disaster. Our boom would have been even more unsustainable. Our bust would have been even more agonising. We would now be contemplating the humiliations of bailout and possibly even exit from the currency.”
Blair took issue with this hypothetical on BBC One’s Politics Show last month, but I think the scenario sketched by Mary Ann is broadly correct.
But I would make one point in response. If there ought to be contrition from those who advocated euro entry, shouldn’t there also be plaudits for those political figures who blocked it – Gordon Brown and Ed Balls? It was the famous five economic tests, devised by Brown and Balls when they were at the Treasury, which effectively prevented the UK from joining the single currency. These vague “tests” were always more about politics than economics, but they did reflect a strong instinct from Brown that the UK should be extremely wary of the euro.
Commentators, generally on the right, castigate Brown for being a roadblock to Tony Blair’s policies when he was Chancellor. Brown is condemned for frustrating the sainted former Prime Minister. But shouldn’t the commentariat acknowledge that this was one occasion when the irascible, massively flawed, Brown was absolutely right to crush Blair’s grand plans with his big clunking fist?Tagged in: euro, Gordon Brown, Mary Ann Sieghart, nick clegg, single currency, tony blair
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