As the 12 Euroland countries plan to fully implement the Euro by February 2002, and not June, as originally planned, the United Kingdom begins to address the issue of keeping the pound or adopting the Euro. While the British press likes to use the stories showing the more ludicrous side of Brussels-controlled politics, the people of the UK will retain their insular and anti-Continent attitudes. Recent opinion polls showed that between 70 and 80% of the population is against the adoption of the Euro and in favour of the continuation of the pound. The presence of the monarch’s head on the pound coins and notes evokes symbols of nationalism which are easy to distort with allegations that in future British people will have to use “foreign” money. Some members of the Labour government, certain to be re-elected on 7th June, namely Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and Trade Union leaders John Edmonds and Sir Ken Jackson, are clearly in favour of the United Kingdom adopting the Euro. Others are more cautious. The Chancellor (Finance Minister), Gordon Brown, wants his five economic tests to be implemented, and passed, before the adoption process begins. When these tests are met, and it is expected that they will be, the Cabinet of Labour’s new government will pronounce itself in favour of the adoption of the Euro and a six-week public information campaign will be held. This, it is hoped, will be aided by the opinions of the millions of British holiday makers who will have already travelled to Euroland countries (all 15 EU countries except the UK, Denmark and Sweden) and who will have seen, by the end of the year, that the transition worked smoothly, aiding the public opinion campaign. The most likely outcome is for the referendum to take place in October or November of 2002, with the reasons in favour of entry being well explained to the sceptical British people. It is thought that the majority of people who today pronounce themselves against the adoption of the Euro will fall into the category of “soft opinion”, which is easy to turn with the use of a media campaign, if the benefits to their pockets can be conveniently conveyed. This strategy is welcomed by the faction in favour of the UK adopting the Euro, Britain in Europe. The director of this movement, Simon Buckby, said “This is good news. When Britons go on holiday next summer, any teething problems will be behind us and they will see a single currency up and running smoothly”. The United Kingdom has made tremendous strides in the last half-century to shake off the burden of its colonial past. Imperialism has given way to a multi-cultural and multiracial society, and while it is natural that an island involved in two major wars on the European Continent in the last century should be reticent about adopting a position in favour of moving towards Brussels while at the same time it courts Washington, such a move is inevitable and the government of Tony Blair knows it.
JOHN ASHTEAD, PRAVDA.RU, LONDON
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