The Tories and the ‘No’ campaign believe it strengthens their case that the UK is not ready for the euro. Meanwhile, pro-euro campaigners claim that it shows that Britain cannot wait for entry and a referendum should be held immediately.
With more than 600 of 5,000 readers polled responding within 24 hours, the survey offers one of the most definitive snapshots of opinion on the euro. Of those who responded to our poll, 47% said Gordon Brown’s five economic tests were not relevant; 83% said the tests have not been met; and 71% replied that a referendum had to be held before the next general election.
The results display profound doubts about the economy meeting what have become highly criticised criteria, while there remains clear scepticism that the tests have any value at all. Readers have also made it plain that the country should be given the opportunity to decide before we go into a general election.
This may play into the hands of the anti-euro brigade. But Accountancy Age readers have already indicated, in a February poll, that the euro was losing support. Around 33% in a survey said they were no more in favour of UK entry since the launch of the single currency.
This week, as the country waits for Gordon Brown to say on 9 June whether the government will go ahead with a referendum, pro-euro lobbyists saw the latest poll as a clear sign that the question needs to be settled. ‘The accountancy profession is absolutely right to demand a referendum on the euro in this parliament,’ said Simon Buckby, campaign director of Britain in Europe.
He added: ‘With the economic conditions right for entry there can be no excuse for ruling out a vote.’
The clash in government is over what should happen next. At the Treasury there’s a desire to see entry postponed until after the next general election while the prime minister’s office doesn’t want to rule out going before.
The country will know more on 9 June. Though our readers say the tests have not been met many believe they have, including Peter Spencer of Ernst & Young’s ITEM Club.
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