The corridors of power …

The shambles of Britain’s railways, the soaring crime figures, crisis in the National Health Service and the plight of the pensioner are all likely to be overshadowed, if not exactly sidelined, when the general election bursts upon the nation.

Centre-stage will be taken by the not-so-humble euro, now the hottest political potato of them all.

Only a year or two ago, the very mention of the single European currency drew yawns all round – the most effective cure for insomnia on the market.

Now its merits and demerits have astonishingly become a regular topic of conversation and dispute in the saloon bars of the nation.

Which is precisely what the prime minister did not want to happen but what William Hague is rejoicing over.

For the Tory leader, whose party grows more euro-sceptic as each day passes, plans to spearhead his entire campaign with the dire warning: This is your last chance to save the pound.

Meanwhile Blair is nervous to the point of paranoia about the cost in votes if the euro issue is highlighted during the campaign.

Even so, Labour seems on course to win the election. And the only comfort that Hague may derive from that is that the chancellor, Gordon Brown, whose political acumen is far sharper than Blair’s, may step in to stop a headlong rush to embrace the euro.

Quite frankly, Brown, who also stands head and shoulders above all his European counterparts, is disdainful of the shortcomings of the European economies.

The thought that Britain’s economy should be run, along with all the other EU countries, by people he regards as second-raters, fills Brown with gloom.

If Blair succumbs to Brown’s superior intellect – and there is no guarantee that he will – that would at least provide Hague with just one more opportunity to fight another day …

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