The Telegraph leader, "The Case for Nafta" Monday July 27, is telling. Last year, Gordon Brown announced the five main criteria by which it should be judged whether we should adopt the Euro. Later that year, in one of those rare debates designed to make Parliament think, I introduced a Bill that required all currencies to be considered by the ‘Brown Criteria’.
Interestingly, while the Euro fails all five tests, and is likely to continue to fail as the British economy is out of synch with that of continental Europe’s because of different private/public debt patterns and other endemic reasons, I was able to tell Parliament that the United States dollar meets all these criteria – now! The Prime Minister constantly reminds us that he will chose whether or not to enter the Euro zone
based solely on economic grounds "What is right for Britain and not based on questions of sovereignty". So will he consider the dollar?
While I am not seriously suggesting the dollar replace sterling, it does beg the question: Why should we consider the Euro, a second best alternative? And is it surprising? British firms are the largest holders of capital in the United States and vice versa. English company law is virtually identical to that in the U.S. and quite dissimilar from most countries in Europe (as I found out to my cost when trading with both areas before I became an MP!). Most telephone companies in the U.K. make communication with all parts of the U.S. and Canada cheaper than that with France. The same goes more often
than not for passenger air travel and overseas container freight between London and New York and Boston. And three million British tourists each year chose to travel to
America for their holidays rather than Europe. Technology and recent international trade agreements prohibiting punitive import tariffs has made distance an irrelevance. In the 70s when we voted to enter the E.E.C., geography was all. Now it is compatibility. Or should be.
Britain is a global trading nation. Nafta, with Britain as a member, would be a bigger market than the European Union with no membership fees such as a common agricultural policy to tie us down. Conrad Black is right! Membership of Nafta as well as – or maybe instead of – the E.U. is a logical move for Britain as we enter the new millennium. The time for the big idea has indeed come.