Recently this concept has taken a back seat, probably the vast majority of us wouldn’t notice that it is happening. However, there is another side to the argument and minister for Europe Peter Hain has been plugging away at it.
Hain has been talking about how the physical introduction of the euro will affect us all,1 January, he says, will be ‘a pretty seismic event for the British public. People will see, feel and use the euro. Once people have seen it is a real thing, and how easy it is to go from France to Germany to Spain to Holland and use the same money, they will see the benefit of it.’
Peter Hain and the rest of the government seem to be gearing up to intensify the euro campaign. Much of this has been hidden by the consequences of 11 September but it is likely that the government and other pro euro groups will take heart from the notes and coins of the euro being in circulation.
This means Peter Hain has an increasingly important job. He has come a long way since he was a leading young liberal and an anti-apartheid campaigner. He is still thought to be a bit of a eurosceptic, but is astute enough to see the way the wind is blowing.
Tony Blair, while leading the British response to the war on terrorism, has found time to make some very pro-European noises. Suddenly he has found himself on an equal footing with the leaders of France and Germany and has had plenty of reminders that we have more in common with the EU than other parts of the world.
His speech to the Labour Party Conference made it clear he is coming round to the idea that a single market and economy in Europe that will increase the power and safety of Britain in an uncertain age. Suddenly a way of selling Europe and the euro to the British public in a patriotic, flag waving, is available.
- Jonty Bloom is a business news reporter at the BBC
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