The Euro is going to continue to struggle for a long time, warns Claire Perry
EXCLUSIVE: By Gerald Isaaman
The Euro is going to continue to struggle as a currency whatever happens within the Eurozone to save it, according to Tory MP Claire Perry, a former banker before she entered parliamentary politics at the last election.
She announced this before the latest decision of Greece to hold a referendum on whether to accept the EU’s latest plans. Stock markets are now reacting negatively as they may well have done had a referendum vote in the UK gone ahead.
“My personal view rather than official policy is that I can’t see how you can reconcile the different growth rates, the fiscal situations of 17 countries with a single currency and with the current level of the lack of alignment between the political and financial institutions,” she told Marlborough News Online.
“Issuing things like Euro bonds will clearly be very helpful but, in order to do that, you have to have the European Central Bank to underwrite the economies. And you won’t get that without stronger fiscal arrangements.”
“So the Euro is going to continue to struggle for some time to come. I do think that unless Greece exits the EU, it will be a struggle.”
The MP for Marlborough is equally convinced that people shouldn’t under-estimate the “healthy level of Euro-scepticism at the top of the government,” despite David Cameron’s insistence not to desert the “burning building” and so upset his growing number of backbench rebels.
William Haig’s never, never, never to the Euro is one example, she points out, and she adds: “I love the story of Cameron going in and being show this glossy brochure for an expensive new headquarters for the European Council, saying, ‘What on earth are you thinking – this is complete rubbish?'”
“I can't imagine previous prime ministers doing that,” she says. “And George Osborne is very practical and understands that not only is it wrong but also that the more the Eurozone can keep looking to peripheral members for funding – and remember that Britain is one of the largest net contributors to the EU – then the less imperative there is for them to sort themselves out.”
Mrs Perry, now 47 and PPS to Philip Hammond at the Ministry of Defence, has her own examples of “gravy train waste” as a member of the delegation to the European Council and attacks too the lack of democratic response when some EU institutions are criticised.
“I made a speech criticising the Court of Human Rights on the issue of prisoner voting rights,” she explains. “Look, Winston Churchill set up the Court of Human Rights, it’s a wonderful thing, the principles of that are so important.
“But it was like I had created an international incident because no-one has ever criticised the Court before.”
She believes the government must promote a relentless drive for growth, wiping out red tape and whatever else is stifling business growth, and is convinced that the money freed up by reducing VAT would be spent on Chinese-made iPods for Christmas rather the generation of employment.
Nevertheless, she is unaware, as are most MPs, that Nick Clegg is preparing for a second round of the coalition agreement, revealing in a new book: “This is the big debate in the coalition. That discussions will be more fraught than the original coalition agreement. It will be a real fork in the road. Both parties have a very different tax stance and a different spending stance.”
Clegg intends to drive a hard bargain and having already drawn up a list of demands is now in a strong position, the backbench Tories in revolt emphasising Cameron's undoubted need of the Lib-Dems to keep him in power.
Mrs Perry recognises that too and believes the coalition will last, her view being that it is frustration more than anything else that has brought about the backbench upsurge, not David Cameron’s Etonian style, as some have claimed.
She received far fewer demands for an EU referendum than she did protests over earlier government proposals to sell off forests like Savernake.
She believes too in Osborne’s bid to prevent any UK money contributed to the IMF being transferred to the Eurozone, though has not heard that Labour may have a secret weapon in this quarter. The husband of their rising Treasury spokeswoman, Rachel Reeves, is a high-flying IMF official, Nick Joicey, whom she met when she worked for the Bank of England in Washington.
“I believe the coalition will last because there is a fundamental agreement on the most important thing, which is the British economy,” she declares. “This is regardless of any second coalition agreement, which I didn’t know about. When you talk to cabinet ministers they are all singing from the same hymn sheet – but it’s just that they are not always harmonising.”
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