Who's to Blame for Britain's Euro Allergy?

Forty years ago, Charles de Gaulle said "Non" to Britain's request to join the European Community. By June 9, British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown will offer his own "No" to Europe. But Britain's decision whether to join the single European currency, the Euro, was taken long ago, and it was always going to be some version of "No."

When France first invited Britain to join the infant European enterprise, a decade before General de Gaulle barred the door, the supercilious mandarins in Britain's Treasury ensured that Britain would indignantly reject the offer. Treasury bureaucrats have remained predictably anti-European ever since. Like the courtiers who surrounded Louis XVIII, they have forgotten nothing and learned nothing.

The only question now in doubt is whether Brown's verdict on the Euro will be "Not quite yet," "Not before the next election," or just plain "No." It is a decision being taken virtually independently of Prime Minister Tony Blair, and even against his wishes.

Blair believes that Britain ought to join the Euro, because he wants Britain to be, as he puts it, "at the heart of Europe". Most commentators tended to assume that, if that's what Tony Blair wants, then sooner or later that is what will happen, because, after all, he is the Prime Minister.