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1995 - Mr Major’s Comments on the Single Currency

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on the single currency, made in an interview on 2nd July 1995.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if he would state his policy on the single currency].

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, I don’t think it’s wise to say no now and I’ve set out the reason for that on many occasions, I’ll happily do so again. I negotiated the opt-out, the decision, the opportunity for this country to say no at a later date with every intention of ensuring that we influence the debate right up to the last moment. I have very great reservations about the economic practicality of a single currency, certainly on the time scale that people propose. I’ve said that repeatedly.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if that was still the case with the proposed 1999 date].

PRIME MINISTER:

I’ve said that repeatedly, yes, I’ve said for years I didn’t think 1997 was practicable. I’ve been proved right. I’m very dubious about 1999, it is possible that a small number of countries may be able to go ahead, but I very much doubt that it will be more than a small number of countries. But what I think would be folly would be for the United Kingdom, one of the great European powers, to exclude itself from this debate, the most important economic debate that Europe has had for 50 years by saying at this stage that we’re going to take no further part in the debate, we are deciding now what the outcome will be.

Now I think that debate needs British pragmatism and British involvement and I think we should involve ourselves very fully in it, not just for us but to put forward the practical economic arguments that we have in our interests and in the interests of the rest of Europe, not just the big nations, but the little nations. I don’t wish to see the European Union become a directorate of the big nations over the little ones, I’ve been keen to widen it and we are widening it and I think we should involve ourselves in this debate. And what I frankly don’t understand is why so many people are fearful of this? We have every opportunity of saying no when this debate is concluded if we think entering a single currency is not in the British interest, or if we think the economics aren’t right, or if we’re worried about the constitutional implications. That option is absolutely there, yes or no at a later stage. Why should we throw away our influence in Europe on this issue and in doing so on a number of other issues as well by saying no at this stage, I don’t think that’s in the British national interest.