Page last updated at 22:30 GMT, Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Ed Balls: Britain won't join euro in my lifetime

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has ruled out any British government joining the euro in his lifetime.

He made the declaration during a Commons debate on the economy on 6 December 2011, after he was repeatedly challenged on Labour's policy on joining the single currency.

Conservative MP Anne Main asked the shadow chancellor if it was still his and Labour's policy "to make sure that Britain joins the euro".

Labour's 2010 general election manifesto stated "there will be no membership of the single currency without the consent of the British people in a referendum".

Mr Balls deftly sidestepped Mrs Main's question, claiming credit for keeping the UK out of the euro in 2003, prompting her to have another go.

She said: "I am amazed, absolutely amazed, that [joining the euro] can still be in his party manifesto and he can still plead that he kept us out of it.

"I am absolutely amazed that he has got the brass neck to say that he is the saviour of this country from the euro, and I am sure that he will now stand on his feet and tell us all that he no longer at any point sees that it is worthwhile to join the euro."

Mr Balls responded that the euro was "not succeeding" which was why "we were quite right not to join the single currency in 2003".

"There is no possibility of the euro being joined by a British government at any time in my lifetime," he added.

Another Conservative, Charlie Elphicke, said the shadow chancellor seemed to be "making up policy on the hoof".

Earlier on in the debate, Chancellor George Osborne told MPs the Treasury was consulting on plans to ensure the eight top executives in the biggest banks trading in the UK revealed their pay and bonus structures.

He said excessive pay in the financial industry was "a concern at any time" because of the "perverse incentive" it creates.

The shadow chancellor questioned whether this would do anything to reduce pay at the top of banks, pointing to existing laws which he said required the publication of all salaries over £1m, but which were not in use.

Mr Osborne also said the strategy set out in his Autumn Statement was the correct one, and that economic events around the world in the week since had "provided further confirmation" of that.

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