Thursday 11 December 2008

Time for an exchange

Suddenly joining the euro doesn't seem such a bad thing as the pound plummets and we can no longer swan around southern Europe with our big hefty pound buying a shopping bag of bargains.
A sterling slump gives grist to the mill of those who have made the argument to join the euro club since inception.
But somehow when we were surfing joyously on a flattering exchange rate, the prospect of waving goodbye to the old money didn't seem that delightful.
Economists could make the argument for greater transparency, competition across the zone, price crunching when you could easily compare and contrast across borders, but Brits tended to feel that when there is a change/no change argument to choose from then of course no change was the best way to go.
And then there's the history (aside from the fact that the pound, derived in part from the Romans bringing to Britain their pan-European ways); we liked the idea of the pound in our pocket, the young pretender "euro" just didn't seem do the trick.
Perhaps as others including Denis MacShane have argued recently the PM should be thinking seriously about the euro right now.
But then again, politically is this the time? Can you imagine the uproar? The editorials?
Well, no one said being in charge was easy.
If you remember the introduction of the congestion charge in London and the mountain of newspaper columns written about how disastrous it would be, you would have thought that Ken could never survive.
What joy it was then to wake up on the first day of charge, walk through the City and discover it had all happened smoothly.
None of the disasters predicted had come to pass, and the roads were emptier than they had been for many a decade.
Mind you, if I was a euro-zone country and Britain suddenly announced it wanted in, I would make it squirm. No-one likes a latecomer as we learned to our cost when it came to joining the EEC.

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