With Christmas behind us – and a general election but a handful of months away – expect the debate that soured any public discussion about the pros and cons of UK membership of the euro last year to resume any day now.
The merits of a decision as momentous as adopting a new currency demands reasoned debate. And so far that has not happened. And with pre-election fever already gripping Whitehall you could be forgiven for thinking reasoned debate might soon be as scarce as an overdraft at Labour HQ.
But perhaps hope is at hand. Much of the negative sentiment about the euro was fuelled by the currency’s collapse against the dollar soon after launch. The fledgling currency stabilised late last year and the fact that last week’s cut in US interest rates was not matched by the European Central Bank was a public vote of confidence by Europe in Europe.
Despite the currency’s difficulties more finance directors want to see the UK join the euro in the lifetime of the next parliament than not, according to a poll of almost 300 in today’s Accountancy Age. Those in favour may be down from 51% to 44% since our last survey six months ago, but they still outstrip the no camp.
But with a general election looming, the prospects of a more informed debate aren’t great.
While the decision of whether or not to join the euro might eventually be determined by politics the debate should be governed by finance.
And much of the responsibility for clarity in that debate must fall to accountants.
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