In one of those ironies that enrich politics, the United Kingdom shall enter the single currency at about the rate John Major took us into the exchange rate mechanism almost ten years ago. The then Chancellor of the Exchequer gave the former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher 'a rate she could be proud of', namely 2.95DM to the pound. The United Kingdom subsequently ejected from the mechanism because the rate could be not held. The rate now stands above 3DM to the pound - but British exports have never been higher. Manufacturers complain that the value of the pound is so high it is putting their business in jeopardy, but in August our exports reached a new monthly total of almost £20bn. This amounted to a 7% rise, the highest monthly increase in two years, aided and abetted by a return to growth within the so-called Asian tiger economies. Car manufacturers and chemical companies were at the forefront of the increase. The United Kingdom is now following in the footsteps of the French, who adopted a franc fort policy, but maintained their position as fourth largest exporter in the world ahead of the United Kingdom, and with a balance of payments surplus to boot. The convergence criteria laid down by the Treasury for prior entry into the single currency, after a yes vote in a referendum, do not call for a reduction in the value of sterling. There may be five specific tests, but a lowering of the value of the currency is not one of them. Major multinationals may decide to have their United Kingdom suppliers' bill at a euro convergence rate of 2.70DM to the pound, but given the strength of the economy the suppliers may well find this on the low side. The euro will soon be running parallel with the pound within our economy, as more multinationals insist on paying their suppliers in euros. Getting into the single currency may be a major political obstacle. Getting in at a rate considered favourable by British exporters may well be impossible. - Stuart Bell is Labour MP for Middlesbrough and adviser to Ernst & Young.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago