Euro POLL: Should Gordon Brown be thanked for keeping the UK out of the euro? VOTE
Data compiled by IHS Markit indicates an annualised economic contraction of roughly ten percent, and “worse inevitably to come in the near future,” a spokesman warned. Across Europe, figures have shown manufacturing in a deep recession, a rapid rise in unemployment, and companies in Germany cutting back hours for workers. The euro has been battered in the financial markets, being outperformed by both the pound and the dollar in recent days, while Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank, has faced widespread criticism for an apparent reluctance to pull out all the stops to protect the eurozone.
Britain is not a member of the monetary union, which comprises 19 and the EU27 states – but according to Mr Brown himself, it could have been very different had he not taken a stand.
Writing in 2010, shortly after he was forced out of office following the general election of that year, Mr Brown said he had dug his heels in as Chancellor when Mr Blair pushed the idea of signing up in the wake of Labour’s landslide election victory in 1997.
In his book, Beyond the Crash, looking at the financial crisis of 2008, Mr Brown said he was ready to quit over the issue.
Indeed, I was ready to resign as Chancellor if I was unable to persuade my colleagues of the grave risks of taking us immediately into euro membership
Gordon Brown in 2010
He explained: “When I first expressed my doubts about Britain’s entry, I stood virtually alone in the Cabinet.
“Indeed, I was ready to resign as Chancellor if I was unable to persuade my colleagues of the grave risks of taking us immediately into euro membership.
“But having considered all the arguments, we concluded unanimously that although the euro was right in principle, it could not work for Britain at that time.”
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Mr Brown’s version of events contrasts with that of then-European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who said in 2008 he he has talked to “the people who matter in Britain” about the country joining the European single currency.
In response, then-Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “Mr Barroso’s meeting with Gordon Brown raises some very interesting questions.
“The president is an intelligent man. He would not have said what he did if the Prime Minister had told him there was no way that Britain was going to join the euro.
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“We will table questions at the first opportunity to find out whether he discussed Britain’s euro membership with Mr Barroso or raised the prospect of Britain scrapping the pound.
“If Gordon Brown has nothing to hide he could break the habit of a lifetime and give some straight answers, something his spokesman notably failed to do when asked about exactly this point.”
Speaking last month, Barney Reynolds, a leading UK and international financial services lawyer and a partner at Shearman and Sterling LLP, told Express.co.uk the eurozone was on the brink of a calamitous meltdown – warning Britain was not shielded from the fallout, despite not being a member.
He said: “The nub of it is that the eurozone states are running a currency system which is half-finished with the result that it is extremely risky.
“And that risk is not being run principally by them since the set-up offloads it – it defaults to the rest of the world.
“So our pensions and investments are running that risk.
“Apart from the fact that right now the Bank of England mitigates that risk.
“They’ve basically got a nuclear reactor with a crack in the core and they are asking financial businesses to move their houses to be next door to the nuclear reactor.
In reference to Brexit, he said the EU, and the French in particularly, wanted more financial businesses to be relocated to France and the eurozone in general.
He added: “Obviously that is exceedingly risky because in reality the inter-connectivity of the financial market and the fact that global banks have to stand behind their subsidiaries means that if there is massive risk embedded in those EU27 entities, it is transmitted into the rest of the world and back into our savings and investments without anyone protecting us from it anymore.”
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