Longtime British Conservative politician Michael Heseltine has declared that the UK will eventually give up the pound sterling and the join the euro, as long as the currency bloc itself survives.
Heseltine, the peer and former Deputy Prime Minister who was recently appointed as an adviser to the coalition government, told the BBC that Britain has failed to resist integration into the continent.
If [the euro zone] survives, and my guess is it will survive, my guess is in the future -- it won't be this week or next week or next year -- we will do so, because the whole process of Europeanization we have resisted and we have failed at every turn,” he said.
Long a pro-European Tory, Heseltine noted that while the euro zone is immersed in a deep crisis, he insisted that European nations will still cling” to the euro and that he did not view the currency as a “failed project.”
This is not the first time Heseltine has spoken favorably about the euro -- last November, according to the Daily Telegraph, he told a British audience that “we should still join the euro,” thereby eliciting gasps.
However, there is a great deal of opposition to such a measure among the highest levels of the British government.
Prime Minister David Cameron said late last year that Britain would never join the euro as long as he held office.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrat party similarly said that it was unlikely that London would embrace the euro in his lifetime. The head of the opposition Labour Party, Ed Miliband, has also expressed pessimism that the UK would join the euro. (In parliament, Cameron has claimed that Labour did indeed want Britain to join the euro).
Howard Archer, an economist at IHS Global Insight in London, spoke to International Business Times about the issue. “I personally think it is highly unlikely that the UK will join the euro in the foreseeable future, if at all, he said. Even if a government tried to take [Britain] in, I doubt very much it would get through a referendum.”
Archer also said that the euro zone's current problems are likely to have hardened the UK public's general aversion to euro zone membership for some time to come.”
Regarding Heseltine himself, Archer commented: “It needs to be borne in mind that he is very pro-European, so he would say that.”
Since the beginning of 2009, the pound sterling has increased about 16 percent in value relative to the euro.
Heseltine, who was once called “Tarzan” due to his carefully tended hair, is a controversial figure in Conservative circles. Now 79 years old, he once challenged Margaret Thatcher for the party’s leadership, an act that ultimately led to the end of her tenure as Prime Minister.