Currency unions – Oxford lecture

On Friday 13th November I will give a lecture on currency unions, comparing in particular the sterling union and the Euro. The lecture will consider the moves to greater political union in the Euro area, and the position of the UK in the EU but not in the Euro. It will also look at the extent of taxation and transfers within the sterling currency area, consider the new financial settlement for Scotland whilst staying in the pound, and discuss the wider strength of nationalist movements within EU countries. It will also tackle the needs of England.

The lecture is an open public lecture to be held in the Old Library at All Souls College, High Street, Oxford. There should be seats for those wishing to attend. It would be helpful to have indications of interest in advance to give us some idea of numbers. The lecture is scheduled for 4pm.

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  1. Lifelogic
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Sound interesting, hopefully it will be made available on line in some form.

    Simon Heffer is spot on today in the Sunday Telegraph today, as indeed is (C Booker on all his three topics)

    He clearly does indeed tax us all for fools.

    Radio 4’s The Bottom Line (on Financial Engineering) was quite interesting too yesterday. With John Kay – Economist and writer, Jessica James – Head of the FX Quantative Solutions Group, Commerzbank and the sound Jon Moulton – Founder, Better Capital.

  2. Mike Stallard
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I am so sorry I cannot attend this fascinating lecture. I do hope it all goes well for you and that there is a huge audience ready with all the right questions!

  3. Richard1
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    It would be great if someone would video it and post a link?

  4. Ian wragg
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    I hope you are filming it to put on the Internet.

    • Demetrius
      Posted November 1, 2015 at 1:19 pm | Permalink


  5. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Actually I’ve just got round to watching the debate at the Cambridge Union.

    Your speech was excellent, JR, forensic in its nature as expected, albeit in rhetorical terms it was somewhat outshone by the hard-hitting speech from Owen Paterson based not so much on abstract or general considerations but on his practical day-to-day real life experiences in DEFRA.

    Unlike Peter Wilding I hope Paterson ends up on the Leave side not the Stay side, but we will have to wait and see on that.

    As for Wilding’s own speech, that was woolly to say the least, his main argument for staying in the EU seeming to be the seductive but rather jingoistic notion that the other countries need British leadership to keep them on the right path.

    I can only say that if the British government has been doing that successfully in the past then its idea of the right path for Europe must be very different from that of the British people who elect it, and very different from what it pretends to the British people.

    If our supposed leadership in Europe had been real and effective then Europe would not now be burdened with the EU, let alone the euro, not unless our politicians really wanted all of that and more while constantly telling the electorate the opposite.

    Reply Owen Paterson is of course on the leave side.

    • Bob
      Posted November 1, 2015 at 3:34 pm | Permalink


      Half of the people speaking against appeared to support the proposition while suggesting that it could be saved with a bit of tinkering. Reminded me of the joke about how many physiologists does it take to change a light bulb.

      I would like to have asked Baroness Quin, if we were not a member of the EU, would you join now?

      Was the Motion carried?

      • Bob
        Posted November 1, 2015 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        * psychologists

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted November 2, 2015 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        In his article about that debate JR concluded with:

        “The audience who included various people who worked for EU and government institutions or in EU law, voted strongly in favour of the EU.”

        • Bob
          Posted November 2, 2015 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

          AKA the Pampered Bureaucracy.

    • Leaslie Singleton
      Posted November 1, 2015 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      Comment on Reply–Unequivocally I should say

  6. Bert Young
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    As usual , I intend to be there . All Souls is a beautiful college and the Old Library an excellent venue . Parking is difficult anywhere in Central Oxford but there are frequent Bus services to the High St .

  7. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    I hope your lecture will touch upon the fact that legally the eurozone must expand to encompass all of the EU member states present and future, apart from the two with EU treaty opt-outs from ever having to join the euro, the UK and Denmark.

    So when I read about an Open Europe proposal that if three non-euro countries oppose an EU proposal there should be six months to seek consensus, but if that was unsuccessful the proposal should either be dropped or it should only be pursued by a smaller group of member states, my immediate thought is that two is less than three, so what happens when all of the EU member states which are (or will be) under a legal obligation to join the euro have actually done so and at most there are only two outside it?

    I suppose that it’s an example of British leadership in Europe that Major came away from Maastricht with all of the other member states committed to joining a single currency which he publicly condemned as a bad idea, and Denmark then had to extract its own opt-out only because the Danes voted to reject the treaty in a referendum, when he would not hold a referendum on the treaty here, and he allowed it to be accepted that the legal obligation to join the euro would automatically be imposed on all of the additional countries which he wanted to join the EU, and he relinquished any British control over admissions to the eurozone after the first wave, Greece being the first instance, and he did not insist that there must be an exit route from the euro so that a distressed country could escape from what Hague later called “the burning building”.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted November 1, 2015 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      Are you and I the only ones aware “that legally the eurozone must expand to encompass all of the EU member states present and future, apart from the two with EU treaty opt-outs from ever having to join the euro, the UK and Denmark.”? We can’t be but it is amazing how often those who do know talk as though the non-euro zone will never reduce to the two with the opt outs.
      I remain convinced that should we be so unwise as to vote to remain in the EU then adoption of the euro would quickly follow. I can hear the words: ‘Having confirmed the country’s determination and desire to remain members of the EU, we must now adopt the euro in order to have our voices heard effectively at the top table and exert fully our influence over EU decision making.’

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted November 2, 2015 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        No, those at the top of the Tory party are well aware of it but nonetheless for years they have actively promoted the false vision of a comparatively small eurozone “inner core” of the EU with an “outer ring” of non-euro EU member states as a permanent configuration of the EU, and they have continued to do that even as the eurozone has expanded into the Baltics, and with no referendums because the governments say that adoption of the euro has already been directly approved by the people when they approved accession to the EU.

        And those at the top of the other old parties are aware of it as well; really I am only picking on the Tory party because they have been knowingly and deliberately misleading the electorate about it.

        And Merkel also knows about it, but ignored the British and Danish treaty opt-outs when she said:

        “Our goal must be that all EU member States join the euro one day”.

        And the people at Open Europe are also well aware of it, and during an exchange back in August one of them replied to me:

        “Thanks Denis. While I didn’t mention it explicitly in this piece it is very clear in our Blueprint that we believe as part of the reform the EU should become a multi-currency union with the obligation to join the Euro removed. We hope that Cameron will put this forward and will continue to argue in favour of it.”

        But it seems that hasn’t happened, from a more recent Open Europe piece based upon the indications published in the FT.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted November 3, 2015 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

          Comment inexplicably missed for moderation here.

    • Leaslie Singleton
      Posted November 1, 2015 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      Dear Denis–By the Lord Harry you love the putative legalities–Personally I ‘d like to see a lot more abrogation and repudiation–The way it used to be

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted November 2, 2015 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        Not putative, nor purported, maybe punitive.

    • Richard1
      Posted November 1, 2015 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

      Let’s give credit where it’s due. John Major showed both great foresight and leadership at the Maastricht negotiation. He got an opt out for the UK from EMU and from the social chapter – the two main measures of the treaty. ok in theory he could have vetoed the whole thing, but think of politics of the time. There was no majority in the UK for leaving the EU, and other countries – and their populations – supported EMU, misguided as that was and has turned out to be. John Major got the best deal available for the UK given the circs at the time.

      That said – though I didn’t agree at the time – our host was right to say in 1995 ‘no change no chance’. Chucking Major out in 95 would presumably have meant Heseltine as PM – would Blair still have won in 97? Probably.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted November 2, 2015 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        I give Major no credit at all. If he had wanted to lead, and do so according to what the British people preferred, and what would have been in their national interests, then he would have said “No” to the treaty in its entirety. And not only did he fail to say “No” himself, he also refused to allow us to say “No” in a referendum. As far as I’m concerned he should really have been banged up for what he did, maybe he would now be out on licence.

  8. Roger Goodacre
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I’d like to book a seat, thank you.

    Posted November 1, 2015 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    You are not going to do it of course JR. Yet it would be refreshing to hear someone speak for England about Scotland. I refer to the massive and possibly irreparable revenue decline in oil fields which the SNP claim as their very own. Also the demise of Scottish Steel. Yes, and whether Trident missile submarines, related engineering activity and future infrastructure building should be harboured solely in England. The fact, that an SNP victory for a UK separate to Scotland, would for the foreseeable future release England from a huge economic albatross around English necks.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted November 2, 2015 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Why doesn’t England move Trident out of Scotland after Scottish Labour have voted not to renew Trident as have the SNP?

      This is what the main parties want although the unions are horrified at the job losses that will be incurred but for the safety of the nation perhaps plans should be put in place now rather than later? It would be one less thing for Westminster to be beaten up over.

      Reply Because we remain one country and non SNP Scots appreciate the income and jobs it brings. Moving it south would be expensive and a provocative gesture.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted November 2, 2015 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        My gut feeling is it will happen eventually anyway.

      • JoeSoap
        Posted November 2, 2015 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

        Expensive yes, but no more provocative than the SNP calling for another independence referendum. I’d say if another referendum were ever agreed and given in to, then a pre-emptive move south for trident would be prudent.

      • Richard1
        Posted November 2, 2015 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

        Not sure there’s a suitable harbour in England or Wales

    • turbo terrier
      Posted November 2, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Christopher Houston.

      whether Trident missile submarines, related engineering activity and future infrastructure building should be harboured solely in England.

      It is not a question about wether the question has to be when. The country cannot go on putting itself in a position where the Scots in whatever political guise can keep on being allowed to beat up the rest of the UK over defence.

      Nobody up here seems to appreciate if the boats go from here the UK I believe will still and should keep the system so any “protection” will all be subject to which way the wind is blowing. The Scots never pay attention to all the small nuclear power stations across the channel, this is a country still affected by the fall out from Chernobyl add to that all the submarines of many nations still just outside our national waters and in lots of cases in them, what the hell is there to worry about?

      If God forbid the downed airliner was a result of ISIS then it will not be too far down the track before they start to get even more destructive weapons. If Russia kicks off then it will be the boats in Faslane that will keep them focused on how they will react.

      Bring the boats back to England or deal with the Americans and get a Lease Lend agreement to have the serviced and refitted over there.

      When all the jobs and skills go then the reality check will really kick in big time.

  10. ChrisS
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    I’m planning on coming. There might be two of us.

  11. Leslie Singleton
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Dear John–For those of us on the other side of London, any chance you could move the lecture to Cambridge? Perhaps the next one??

    Reply I would need an invitation from a host institution.

  12. Martin
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Will you be covering things like the Falklands, Channel Islands, Gibraltar etc who use Sterling and the level of Central Bank supervision they do or do not have?

    Reply No

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 2, 2015 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Pity, JR, if possible you should deal with those canards beloved of the SNP.

  13. Margaret
    Posted November 1, 2015 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Like many others I am interested. I have stabbed in the dark about financial matters for many years using gut instinct only and when things turn out to be , for example Chinese investment , I surprise myself.

    When I understand I become fairly articulate around that subject and it frustrates me that I cannot be fluent about economics. I don’t approve of bluffers so use that rule for myself, yet the lecture is in a place where I see Morse and his followers only: so far away from Bury.

    I hope that you are not superstitious ..Fri 13th

    Posted November 2, 2015 at 2:13 am | Permalink

    I too have just got round to watching the debate at the Cambridge Union. Painful.

    The main thrust by your opponents that “We” should lead Europe. Emotive. No-one else in the EU would agree to that or be led. In the debate, the concept of Democracy was treated like a piece of infinitely stretchable elastic. Putting an X against an unknown person on a ballot paper in the UK once every five years hardly is a “Democratic” justification for higher tier upon tier in the EU peopled by persons most here do not know and do not care to know “democratically “making decisions. They are strangers.

    Of course the EU has failed and it was disappointing to see our education system has failed so many obviously intelligent people at the debate. Universities should pay students to attend their courses rather than the reverse.

    Oh and it would be so refreshing to hear someone actually come out with the real reasons for World War Two and not put it all down to a Chaplinesque Corporal in the German army who got gassed by the British in the First World War, got his quite decent drawings rejected for his art college application because of Tate Gallery Syndrome by a so-named German Academic Body obviously on something which, had the very odd reported effect of turning him into a Jew hater.

    Whatever the truth of it: the EU did not save Europe. It was American, Canadian and British bombers leveling German cities in the West and the Russian Army doing what they do with ruthless efficiency in the East.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 2, 2015 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      The EU is the unhealthy product of peace in Europe, not its cause. But try telling that to youngsters who have been indoctrinated to believe the opposite, and who know little of our or anybody else’s history, apart from the Tudors and the Nazis with a dash of Cold War added …

  15. Andrew Mills
    Posted November 2, 2015 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I am planning to attend

  16. oldtimer
    Posted November 2, 2015 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    I will try to attend. If my route is blanketed with fog on the day then I shall call it off.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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