Eurozone is 'burning building with no exits': UK minister

28th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Wednesday that his assertion more than a decade ago that the eurozone was a "burning building with no exits" had been proved right by the debt crisis.

Hague, one of the most eurosceptic members of Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron's government, added that countries using the single currency would feel the ramifications of the crisis for decades to come.

"I described the euro as a burning building with no exits and so it has proved for some of the countries in it," he told The Spectator magazine, repeating comments he made in 1998 when he was Conservative leader.

Hague tried to clarify his remarks, saying: "You can have burning buildings where they manage to put out the fire or control it or get more room or something.

"I might take the analogy too far but it (the eurozone) is not built with exits so it is physically a difficult thing to leave a currency without any plan to do so, I don't think we can advocate that.

"But they are on very unpalatable choices and it clearly means that, being in the euro, that Greeks or Italians or Portuguese have to accept some very big changes in what happens in their country, even bigger than if they weren't in the euro.

"And Germans will have to accept that they are going to subsidise those countries for a long time to come, really, for the rest of their lifetimes."

It is the second time this month that Hague has condemned the creation of the eurozone, although, like Cameron, he has insisted that Britain will work to support the single currency because it was in its national interest.

Cameron is coming under pressure from traditional members of his Conservative party who want to use the crisis in the eurozone to see some powers transferred back from the European Union to London.

Hague has said he would support pulling back from Brussels but argued that any move to do that would be blocked by the Conservatives' coalition partners, the pro-EU Liberal Democrats.

He told The Spectator it was an issue for the next election in 2015.

© 2011 AFP

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