UK Economist Believes Christians Should Oppose Joining EU Currency

Patrick Goodenough | July 7, 2008 | 8:09pm EDT
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London (CNSNews.com) - A leading British economist caused a stir Monday when he was quoted as saying it would be against God's wishes for Britain to adopt the common European currency.

A London daily quoted Graeme Leach, the chief economist with the Institute of Directors (IOD), as arguing that for Britain to adopt the euro would be against the "Biblical model of government."

It said he would say this later Monday in an address to the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship in London.

The report caused Leach, an evangelical Christian, some discomfort, he admitted in a telephone conversation, and he was attempting to minimize the fallout "internally."

"It's creating problems [in the IOD] because people are worried about the IOD being linked to it, and our members might have problems with that. It's a sensitive issue."

The IOD is an association of members ranging from directors of large public companies to those of small private firms.

Britain's businesses are divided over whether the country should join the euro, and the issue is a key one during the current general election campaign.

Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labor Party supports joining the euro, but only after specified economic conditions have been met, and after a national referendum on the issue.

Although there are several high-profile dissidents on the issue in the main opposition Conservative Party, its leadership is generally "euro-skeptic," and its election manifesto published last week promises to retain the pound sterling for at least the next five years.

Leach emphasized that he would address tonight's meeting in his private capacity. "It's a private meeting and there's a real risk it's going to be misconstrued as an IOD meeting, when it clearly is not."

Leach said he would not be saying that "God's against the euro." What he would say is that, "after much thought and prayer for many years, I'm convinced that Christians in the UK should oppose it."

Leach said he did not want to comment further at this point, but pointed to quotes in the newspaper article which he said were accurate.

He believes God's guidance should be sought because the euro is likely to be the single most important economic and geo-political question facing Britain in the 21st century.

While Biblical government is "minimalist, decentralized and supportive of a Christian world view," European Union governance is "expansive, decentralized and supportive of a humanist world view."

Joining the euro would be bad for Britain's economy and its sovereignty, he says.

He is also concerned it may weaken the UK's links with the United States, a country whose Christians still have an impact on public policy.

It's not just joining the common currency Leach has concerns about. "The entire EU project shows conspicuous signs of God's absence," he says, pointing to agricultural policies that have angered many British farmers. "It has also been responsible for huge levels of fraud and corruption."

Attempts to get comment Monday from Christian organizations affiliated to Labor and the Conservatives were unsuccessful.

Battle

The battle for the hearts and minds of Britain's businessmen over the euro has seen the establishment of a number of organizations on either side of the argument in recent years.

Leading the pro-euro bloc is the cross-party "Britain in Europe," which enjoyed a high-profile launch involving Blair, senior Labor ministers, and two leading pro-European figures and former ministers from the Conservative Party.

Its argument is that membership of the euro would benefit Britain providing the economic conditions are right - basically the Labor view.

"The abolition of currency volatility would safeguard jobs, boost trade, and encourage inward investment," it says. "British people could enjoy lower mortgages and cheaper goods."

Britain in Europe dismisses "euro-skeptic" claims that a European superstate is in the making and that the UK's sovereignty is in jeopardy.

"Britain would still be Britain if we joined the euro. In fact, there is no prospect of the creation of a European superstate. There will be no tax harmonization. The British way of life would be safe. These are all myths peddled by anti-Europeans to distort the debate and mislead the public," it says.

Leading the anti-euro lobby is a non-party political group called "Business for Sterling," formed in 1998 to argue the business case for keeping the pound sterling.

It is supported by the 136,000-member Federation of Small Businesses, and the IOD with its 50,000 members and directors on the boards of three quarters of the UK's top 1,000 companies.

"Our central argument is that, because of Britain's special economic circumstances, the penalties of adopting the euro would outweigh any gains," Business for Sterling says.

"Britain is now enjoying the lowest inflation for 25 years, after nearly a decade of growth," says Tim Melville-Ross, a former IOD director-general.

"We have a modern, flexible and deregulated economy. For the first time in a generation, we have the prospect of long-term economic stability. Why risk throwing away this success?"
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