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Saturday, 9 June, 2001, 18:42 GMT 19:42 UK
The next big vote - the euro?
During the election campaign William Hague declared that there were only days to save the pound.
At the beginning of next year euros will be circulated in 12 EU countries that will have their national currencies withdrawn.
Michael Portillo has claimed that "the Labour government intends to rig any referendum" if the five economic tests have been met. Charles Kennedy favours a neutral question. Gordon Brown will not be drawn until the economic conditions are right.
Do you think the people should be given a vote on the future of the currency? What should the question be? And do you think the UK is ready for the euro?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
On a personal level it makes very little difference whether I am paid in, or spend pounds or euros. The same bank account receives my salary and the same card pays the bills. However, on a national level it is very important. As a nation we have much to lose even if as an individual, at first, it will appear little different. This is why I shall vote 'no' 'non' or 'nein' to the Euro
A simple 'yes' or 'no' questions in a referendum on joining the Euro is far too superficial. One of the most important issues to consider is at what rate we join up, if we join up at all. Another issue is, what steps will the European Central Bank take to maintain or enhance the value of the currency? The value of Sterling against the Euro has fallen from 60p for a euro to 61.5p to the euro: that's a fall of 2.5 per cent in just over a year. Good for business and exports? Yes, if you believe in the 'pile it high and sell it cheap' philosophy.
Armand, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
I think it is more important to establish what will count as a "Yes" or "No" vote - will a 51per cent "Yes" vote on a 50 per cent turnout be counted as "Yes" or "No". Will the government be bound by a No vote?
Membership of the single currency is the logical next step for a country who already has a generation of its people actively benefiting from the fundamental principles of the EU. These are, of course, freedom of movement of labour and freedom of movement of capital. The old adage of "you get out all or more of what you put in" applies as ever. Making Europe work for you when you consider yourself to be a unit of productive labour has always been my outlook.
I certainly believe that no political party with a majority based on a 60 per cent voter turn-out should decide this issue. However, I have no confidence in the ability of the majority of the British public to decide this issue either.
I think it is imperative that the people are allowed vote on whether Britain should join the single currency. I think that we should only join if the economic criteria are right, as we would be locked into an unfavourable position in perpetuity otherwise. I am also concerned at the level of influence that Britain would cede to the French & Germans in doing so. Britain has traditionally followed the USA closer than Europe, and I think joining NAFTA may be more advantageous to the UK than the Euro. At the end of the day, as long as Tony Blair keeps his arrogance in check, and doesn't decide that he knows best and puts it to a referendum!
A Kelty, London, UK
It's right that there should be a referendum on the euro.
Although Labour are obviously well in favour of it and will try to brainwash people to vote for the currency, the British people have a choice of voting yes or no. It's up to us to decide. Blair cannot ignore such a significant result either way.
I personally think that having the single currency across the whole of Europe is of benefit to everybody, because it would be easier to go on holiday to main Europe without having to change currency.
The comments so far entered in this question are a clear indication that we need more debate and education on the matter. Personally I am for the euro, as the UK is trading in Europe in a grossly overvalued pound. With Motorola deciding to pull out of the UK in favour of Germany and shedding 3000 jobs here it is burying heads in the sand not to at least consider the question. I also suspect that if we could directly compare state pensions across Europe (in euros) the grey vote would magically be transformed in favour.
I believe that the euro can do great things for economic stability if its problems can be sorted out. But at present the euro looks like it is teetering dangerously on the edge of self-destruction. Mr Blair and Mr Brown should continue to wait and see if the euro picks up, otherwise I will be joining the ranks of the 'no' voters.
A referendum question might read: "Are we: (a)British, (b) European or (c) British within Europe?". As much as I believe that "a" is the answer, the subject is ripping the country apart ... we need to make our minds up (once and for all) and pursue whatever course is chosen with all the brilliance and skill that we, as a nation, have shown ourselves capable of over the centuries.
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK
There is absolutely no wisdom in signing over our sovereignty as a country to Europe. We will lose all control. And I trust it less and less. In these days of peace, everyone thinks of Europe as a safe, but it is a war-zone waiting to happen.
A referendum on the euro is the best policy whether you are for or against. It separates the issue from the rest of party politics and gives people of all political leanings the opportunity to tell the EU where they can stick their currency.
The people must be given a say. And they will be. The Government cannot go back on its promise of a referendum. I am all for Sterling and a loosening of ties with Europe.
I do not think Britain should join the euro. We are slowly having our identity stripped away. Let's be proud of our heritage, proud of our island and proud to be British.
Its just as well that most of the people voted Labour, as most of the people will suffer when Mr Blair spins the country and a gullible public into a federal Europe via the Euro.
I like the idea of a trading community - which was the original idea of the EU. I am against the euro as it will destroy two good currencies - the pound and the deutschmark. The euro will create instability and increase inflation.
Jerry Jones, Surrey, England
Jerry Jones' erroneous comments on the euro sum up for me why the Government should not bother with a referendum. The job of Government is to deal with issues that the average person on the street is not interested in or has not the necessary wisdom and or data to make an informed judgement about. I would hate to see such a wonderful opportunity for progressive internationalism (not to mention the economic benefits) that membership of the euro would give us thrown away by knee-jerk nationalism from ill-informed reactionaries.
I am all for the 'progressive internationalism' of joining. However I do hope the Chancellor leverages the stability our joining may bring to the currency to bring about reform of the structural weaknesses of the European Central Bank and the deficit of democracy and accountability in the other European Institutions. No wonder the people of Ireland voted against the Nice treaty. With these issues addressed I will be delighted to cast a Yes vote.
I agree with Jerry Jones. I voted for a 'common market' not to be European. I am against the euro and the thought of President Blair and his first lady.
Contrary to Jerry Jones's comment, joining the Euro will decrease inflation and instability which are strongly influenced by exchange rate fluctuations between the UK and our major trading partners in Europe. The recent strength of the pound relative to the euro has had a very negative effect. So when we get our simple question 'Should we join the euro?' - I will be voting 'yes'.
I'm one of millions of people who was too young to vote in the referendum to join the EEC, so I'm not even sure what the question was. The question ought to be a straight "should we join the euro or not", but that's not the way to win a referendum against a sceptical public.
If a decision is required then the people should make it. A simple "Do you want the euro" seems an obvious question to ask...and I personally would vote 'no' The euro ain't for me.
J Eastwood, Wakefield, UK
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