Charlie Whelan says . . .
Don't believe it - "Blair keeps alive hopes of early euro referendum"
When Gordon Brown's chief economic adviser, Ed Balls, gave his post-speech briefing to the lobby hacks after his boss had sat down, there were audible giggles as he tried to convince them of the possibility of a referendum this side of an election.
Like me, most of them will have heard Balls brilliantly articulate the case against Britain joining the euro. And his views are similar to Brown's, so most journalists didn't believe a word he said at the briefing. This did not stop some of them writing it. I overheard one political editor tell his newsdesk that the briefing was "complete bollocks". But as it fitted in with that paper's line on Europe, so it became fact. What was more surprising was that the Sun seemed to have swallowed this rubbish. It claimed that Brown had been forced to back down over the euro by Blair. Ha! Ha!
The best bit of the euro statement came with the Brown-Blair press conference. During the whole of Blair's statement, the TV cameras showed Brown. The only thing the press was interested in was the body language, and what they saw was a twitchy Blair, wishing he was as far away as possible from Brown - while the Chancellor, who was so keen to show how close he is to Blair, continually referred to him as "Tony". No other cabinet minister does that, not in public at least. But the Chancellor always refers to him by his first name or, when he's angry, by his second. He never calls him PM because he rightly thinks he is his equal. He is, of course, more than that, which is why he so comprehensively "outmanoeuvred" Blair over the euro. Brown is still in total control of what will happen next, and even Ed Balls wouldn't dare deny that.