Good news from today’s Guardian, which just goes to show that big news can sometimes come in the form of something bad just very quietly not happening:
Tacit confirmation that joining the single currency is off the political radar until after the next election came today as the “No” campaign confirmed it was ceasing to campaign actively.
The group insists that a “steering committee” will monitor the government’s plans on the euro, but that last week’s budget now means that a referendum would not be before spring 2008 at “the absolute earliest”.
In his budget statement last Wednesday, Gordon Brown announced a “rolling assessment” of the case for euro – but last June told MPs that only one of his “five tests” had been met.
The sixth test – can they get us damn voters to agree to it? – was always the test that mattered. I don’t know anyone who believes that any of the other five matter as much as that one. (Come to think of it, I doubt if I know anyone who knows what all these tests are.) And because those New Labour people didn’t take all the chips they won in 1997 and throw them straight back onto the table and bet them all on the abolition of the pound Sterling, right then, there is a very good chance that Britain will retain its national independence indefinitely, with its separation from the ‘eurozone’ eventually mutating into separation from ‘Europe’ itself. I can hope.
As a libertarian I wish we Brits could cherry pick. I wish we could welcome all these Eastern European immigrants who are about to flood in and who want to work, but not take all the idiotic and mean-minded regulations and ‘harmonisations’. (And maybe history will cherry pick exactly that arrangement for me, eventually.) Which might explain why in other parts of Europe the libertarians are all gung-ho not only for ‘Europe’ but for the very Euro itself. In Brussels last week, I heard tell of a Swedish libertarian who voted ‘No’ in the Swedish referendum and who was damn near ostracised by the rest of her tribe. In Sweden, ‘Europe’ is what is going to dismantle their over-bloated welfare state. ‘Europe’ is Thatcherism.
However, the fact that ‘Europe’ may be a better bet than Sweden for Sweden doesn’t make it a better bet than Britain for Britain, so I am still pleased about the indefinitely postponement of the Euro in these parts.