Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘the euro’

Caroline Flint, New Labour and the Lisbon Treaty

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 1st April, 2009

caroline-flintBritain’s Europe Minister, Caroline Flint, caused gasps in the House of Commons yesterday, when she admitted that she had not read all of the Lisbon Treaty. I have often chided New Labour for not making the case for the Treaty stongly enough to the British public, but this really takes the biscuit. For once, I agree with UKIP leader Nigel Farage MEP, who commented, ‘a Minister being in this position of simply not being bothered is staggeringly insulting to the people she is supposed to represent.’ She is clearly not fit for purpose, nor is this increasingly tarnished government.

Tony Blair had the most wonderful opportunity to put Britain at the heart of Europe (as he said he wanted to do) after his sweeping victory in 1997. I think he could even have taken the UK into the euro on the crest of his electoral wave. But he flunked it. Gordon Brown has never been as EU-friendly as his predecessor, of course. But it is an appalling indictment of his management of this country’s affairs that he has appointed to the European ministerial portfolio someone who hasn’t even done her homework. How on earth does New Labour think it can ‘sell’ the benefits of the Lisbon Treay to the British people if it carries on like this? Perhaps Ms Flint should be sent off to Brussels for an intenseive course from the leader of the Britsh LibDem MEPs there, the Euro-constitutional expert, Andrew Duff!

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Denmark to Join the Euro?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 30th October, 2008

As a result of the financial crisis, Denmark might decide to join the Eurozone, according to the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Speaking at a press conference at the ELDR Congress in Stockholm this afternoon, Mr Rasmussen said that Danes were now realising both the economic and political cost of staying out. The Danish crown is closely linked to the euro, but not being a member of the single currency area means that the Danish government has no direct say in related policy. Moreover, Danish interest rates are now two per cent higher than in the Eurozone, which is really hitting private and commercial borrowers. The government intends to instigate a new referendum on Eurozone membership during its time in office, and Mr Rasmussen believes this time the ‘yes’ side would win.

The leaders of the two Swedish Liberal Parties — Maud Olofsson of the Centre Party and Jan Bjorklund of Folkpartiet, who are co-hosting the ELDR Congress — said that the situation in Sweden is a little less clear, though recent opinion polls here suggest that the majority against joining the euro is now very small. But Mr Bjorklund replied to a question of mine that three out of the four parties in the current Swedish government would campaign in favour of euro-membership if a refrendum were held hypothetically next month.

And what about the other stay-out, Britain, with its sinking pound, I wonder?

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Europe Day in Leyton

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 9th May, 2008

Across Britain, school children (and some grown-ups) have been taking part in a Euro-quiz, to mark Europe Day, which is an annual event held on 9 May. Britain has rarely taken this seriously (and indeed Mrs Thatcher even went so far as to tell people not to fly the European flag!), but that situation is improving. Other relevant events were also organised. I spent the morning at George Mitchell School in Leyton (London Borough of Waltham Forest), talking to 120 Year 8 pupils about the history and potential of the EU, the importance of learning languages and some of the opportunities available for young people now to study or work in other member states.

I was interested to see just how many questions there were about the euro and Britain’s relationship to it. As more and more EU member states adopt the euro, travellers — including young teenagers — are increasingly appreciating that Britain is out on a limb with its currency. There were strong reasons why the UK did not sign up for the euro when it was launched nearly a decade ago. But will we still be outside the Eurozone in ten years from now? 

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