Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "Minister says euro rejection will scare investors"

The whole of Westminster has gone bonkers over Europe. The BBC political editor leads the Ten O'Clock News with the stunning revelation that the five economic tests have failed. What a scoop. Even more sensationally, No 10 holds a joint press briefing with No 11. Do they really expect us to believe that there is no split between Brown and Blair?

I knew the Treasury would deny that Brown had threatened to quit if Blair had made the euro statement to parliament in 1997, but what else could he have done? It seems the press offices in Downing Street and the Treasury have both lost the plot.

The papers have been doing their best to stir the pot, too. The Times political editor can always be relied upon to deliver a good "splash". But how desperate were they on the Tuesday, when we were told a minister had warned that rejecting the euro would scare off investors? Given that the head of General Motors had said only the previous week that it didn't matter a fig if Britain wasn't in the euro, this was surprising. Even more surprisingly, Phil Webster didn't name the minister until he was a hundred words into his story. Or not so surprisingly, as his name was Bill Rammell (the minister for the Far East).

The only explanation is that the Times had decided to become pro-euro. About as likely as Peter Mandelson joining the "keep the pound" campaign. In any event, why should a major newspaper jump ship just when there is more public opposition to the euro than ever? That, incidentally, is why Brown will win the euro war. It is the unspoken sixth test: can we win a referendum? The answer is clearly no, and particularly not without Brown's support.

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