UK: EDITORIAL - EUROSCEPTICISM - NO THANKS.

UK: EDITORIAL - EUROSCEPTICISM - NO THANKS. - What is a Eurosceptic? The answer is not so simple as: one of the motley crew who surrounded John Redwood when he launched his bid for the prime minister's job. Rather better, perhaps, is: 'those who believe

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

What is a Eurosceptic? The answer is not so simple as: one of the motley crew who surrounded John Redwood when he launched his bid for the prime minister's job. Rather better, perhaps, is: 'those who believe that there are plausible conditions under which Britain should cease to be part of the European Union'.

Surely we are beyond that stage? Geography and history have structured the world such that almost all global economic powers form part of three major trading blocs. For an economy of Britain's size life outside one of these blocs is too frightening to contemplate. It's a forlorn view that Britain can somehow be part of the world economy without first being part of Europe.

Once this is realised, the heat can be taken out of the European debate. 'How' replaces 'whether'. Intellectual rigour must then be applied to questions such as whether a single currency may lead to unacceptable deprivation if areas affected by recession are unable to drop interest or exchange rates. And the practicality of various courses casts doubt on their likely implementation. As David Smith points out in his economics column on page 21 the route to monetary union is strewn with technical problems. Similarly with social issues: from factory workers to bond dealers, nobody could enforce - or be seriously asked to enforce - a maximum working week of 45 hours in the UK.

But any outcome of such considerations cannot provide a rationale for jumping the European ship. Britain understands the absolute necessity of being an integral part of the EU. What remains is some unemotional discussion concerning the optimal way for Britain to play this part.

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