Balls toughens Labour's stance on the euro

Shadow chancellor says that there is "no possibility" of Britain joining the euro "in my lifetime".

Speaking in the Commons, Ed Balls has just made the remarkable declaration that "there's no possibility anytime in my lifetime of a British government joining the euro". His statement represents a significant shift of policy by Labour, which had previously said only that it was unlikely that Britain would join the single currency in the near future. In his recent speech on the EU, Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary, said that while joining the euro "is not on Labour's agenda" there "is no need to be dogmatic on these questions", noting that "future generations of politicians may find that circumstances have changed".

But Balls, who is deservedly proud of his role in keeping the UK out of the euro, felt that an unambiguous statement was needed. Labour's policy reversal leaves the Lib Dems as the only one of the three main parties refusing to rule out euro membership.

Incidentally, for a list of prominent political figures who still support UK membership in theory, see my blog from last month, "Who still thinks Britain should join the euro?"

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for International Trade.

Only Nixon, it is said, could have gone to China. Only a politician with the impeccable Commie-bashing credentials of the 37th President had the political capital necessary to strike a deal with the People’s Republic of China.

Theresa May’s great hope is that only Liam Fox, the newly-installed Secretary of State for International Trade, has the Euro-bashing credentials to break the news to the Brexiteers that a deal between a post-Leave United Kingdom and China might be somewhat harder to negotiate than Vote Leave suggested.

The biggest item on the agenda: striking a deal that allows Britain to stay in the single market. Elsewhere, Fox should use his political capital with the Conservative right to wait longer to sign deals than a Remainer would have to, to avoid the United Kingdom being caught in a series of bad deals. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.