Date set for euro announcement

Date set for euro announcement
Date set for euro announcement

The Chancellor's economic assessment on single currency membership will be unveiled to the Commons on Monday 9th June.

The announcement follows growing speculation about a rift between Gordon Brown and Prime Minister Tony Blair over the timing and nature of the statement, which will detail the Treasury's assessment on whether or not the economic conditions are right for UK euro entry.

And it follows criticism from some quarters that debate on euro membership has so far been conducted between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor without proper cabinet consultation.

However, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said this morning that Cabinet members would engage in full discussion over the issue in the run up to the announcement.

Defending his position this lunchtime, the Chancellor insisted that the discussion over whether Britain should join the euro must be based on consideration of the country's long term national economic future and not on rumour or gossip.

Mr Brown told BBC Radio Four's 'World at One' that the process he and the Prime Minister announced today, which was set down in 1997, would be 'exactly the proper way for one of the most momentous decisions this country has got to make'.

'The Treasury makes an assessment of the five economic tests, then there will be a Cabinet discussion and Cabinet decision'.

'Then the matter will go to Parliament, as it will on June 9 in a statement, and then of course if the recommendation were to be yes there would be the question of consulting the people in a referendum'.

Noting that the 'British people would expect nothing less of us' than to approach this issue with great seriousness, the Chancellor said that there were 18 separate studies being sent to Cabinet ministers over the next few days for their consideration.

'They look at every issue associated with our economic future, and the euro. They examine investment; financial services; flexibility; convergence and the future of employment'.

Mr Brown tenaciously defended the idea that the 'Cabinet will make the decision', and refused to enter into discussion over whether the Cabinet could overturn the conclusion reached by the Treasury on the five economic test.

'I'm not giving a running commentary on where we are or where we're going to get to, but this is a Cabinet decision - in the proper sense of the constitution - that will be presented to the House of Commons', he said.

Yesterday European commissioner Chris Patten denounced what he described as the UK government's cautious stance on the euro ahead of Gordon Brown's statement.

Claiming that the tests were a vehicle for the Chancellor's veto of a referendum, Mr Patten suggested that Tony Blair's apparent lack of leadership on this issue had allowed the UK to become 'semi-detached' from the rest of the European Union.

The commissioner also criticised the Treasury's attitude, which he argued appeared to be that 'Europe's economy is not yet worthy of us', although, according to most commentators, this is unlikely to deter Mr Brown from giving a 'not yet' verdict when he announces his decision on the tests.