For those Tories convinced that David Cameron has sold out to the europhile Lib Dems, Ed Davey’s interview with Rafael Behr [which appears in this week’s New Statesman] is powerful evidence. The Energy Secretary declares that the coalition may come to be seen as “more constructive, more engaged and indeed more pro-European than its Labour predecessor”.
He mischievously adds:
It’s not just Liberal Democrat ministers but Conservative ministers who are really engaged with their European counterparts.
Some of the relationships that he [Cameron] is building are very important. What the coalition government is showing time and again is that by engaging with Europe you actually look after Britain’s national interest more effectively.
His comments are tailor-made to provoke a eurosceptic backlash against Cameron – many Tory MPs are still furious that the Prime Minister hasn’t delivered on his promise to “repatriate powers” from Brussels.
Elsewhere, Davey insists that Britain could still join the euro in the future [if not before 2020]:
You’d be an unwise person to ever rule something out totally.
You just don’t know what’s going to happen and given the uncertainties in our economy, I think it would be reckless to rule any of your options out.
It’s notable that the Lib Dems are now the only one of the three main parties not to rule out euro membership. For Labour, Ed Balls has declared that “there’s no possibility anytime in my lifetime of a British government joining the euro”, while the Tories have long ruled out membership of the single currency.
But Davey is far from the only political figure to suggest we could still give up the pound. Here’s a list of some of the most notable.
Tony Blair, 13 November 2011
“I think we will join the euro. I think the chances are the euro will survive because the determination, particularly of the French and the Germans, is to maintain the coherence that they’ve created in Europe.”
Michael Heseltine, 20 November 2011
“So should Britain join the euro now? Of course not. But we should not exclude the possibility. This is what separates us from the eurosceptics. We still say that if it becomes in Britain’s interest to join we should. They say that even if it were in Britain’s interest to join we shouldn’t.This could — sooner than we think — become much more than just an academic question.”
Paddy Ashdown, 21 November 2011 (£)
“If and when the economic circumstances were right and to Britain’s advantage, we should certainly consider doing so [joining the euro].”
Peter Mandelson, 14 November 2011
“He [David Cameron] should say that while it was right for Britain not to join the single currency as it was previously constructed, if Germany were to act responsibly, Britain would peg sterling to a reformed euro and in the long run even consider joining the regime.”
Ken Clarke, 25 July 2011
“Certainly nothing is going to happen in the next decade but I find never say never in politics is a very good rule”.