Prime Minister Tony Blair warned Wednesday that ruling out British membership of the Euro in the medium term would have a "devastating effect" on the British economy.
Speaking during an intense grilling in parliament on government policy towards the Euro, Blair said that to exclude all possibility of joining the currency after the next British election would have serious implications for jobs, investment and industry.
"If we ruled it out for the next parliament ... it would have a devastating effect on British jobs and investment, because what industry wants to know is that we will take the decision on what is best for the economy," Blair said.
"That is why we don't go in today because it isn't right for the economy but if the economic tests are positive early in the next parliament then we put it to the British people in a referendum," he said.
Blair has set five economic tests that must be passed before the issue of Britain joining the Euro-zone will be put to a national plebiscite. Two thirds of Britons currently oppose the idea of joining the Euro, according to opinion polls.
Blair himself admitted last week that he himself would answer no if asked whether he wanted to join the Euro today.
His opposite number, Conservative leader William Hague, parodied the government's five-tests policy, suggesting that the decision to join the Euro was more a function of a furious tug-of-war between cabinet ministers such as Peter Mandelson, Gordon Brown and Robin Cook.
"We know what his five tests are: does Peter (Mandelson) want it, will Gordon (Brown) let me, will the French like it, will Robin (Cook) notice and can I get away with it," Hague said – LONDON (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )