Would you throw away 600 years of sovereignty for a fixed-rate mortgage? Should we put our pensions at risk to cover the unfunded pensions of other less farsighted countries? Those were the soul-searching questions put by eurosceptic Sir John Craven, former Deutsche Bank board member, at a highly charged debate in London on whether the UK should join European monetary union.
Speakers exploited the deep emotions this topic arouses in otherwise tolerant Britons. Tory MP John Redwood warned that prime minister Tony Blair "wants to murder your currency and your democracy without your realizing it's being done". He rehearsed a litany of horrors that membership of the euro would bring. "Don't blame me," he jeered. "These are now matters for unelected bankers in Frankfurt."
Liberal-Democrat leadership candidate Charles Kennedy pleaded that staying out of the euro is like Manhattan trying to run a dollar separate from the US. That didn't cut much ice with Sir Stanley Kalms, chairman of electrical retailers Dixons, who warned that euro-stability is a pipedream: "Since we left the ERM we've created more jobs than the whole eurozone put together."