FEARS that Gordon Brown is secretly plotting to scrap the pound for the Euro were fuelled yesterday after the scale of the Government’s stealth plans were revealed.
Whitehall departments are spending time and taxpayers’ money updating their plans for the switch and each one has a named minister in charge of the process, it emerged.
Detailed talks have taken place in departments about what they would have to do if Britain joined.
They include explaining to the public how the move would affect their council tax and business-rate bills and how the BBC would pay for the £10 million cost of changing the TV licence fee to Euros.
The disclosures come just months after European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso claimed Britain was “closer than ever” to joining the Euro.
Pro-Europe Business Secretary Lord Mandelson also said in December that “our aim, our goal, should be to enter the single currency” and the Government was “right to maintain a long-term policy objective of taking Britain into the Euro”.
Details of how the Government is paving the way for change were extracted from ministers in answers to Parliamentary questions.
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said: “The public will be alarmed that Government departments are spending time and money on preparing to scrap the pound.
“It now appears that Gordon Brown and Lord Mandelson have a secret Whitehall agenda to exploit their appalling mismanagement of the public finances and use it as an excuse to join the Euro.
“Time and resources better spent on improving local public services are now being spent on preparing to issue council tax bills and TV licences in the new currency.
"Only Conservatives are committed never to join the Euro, preserving our economic independence, and we will scrap these white elephant changeover plans.’’
Details of the Government’s preparations for joining the Euro, which Labour has said will happen only if the British people vote Yes in a referendum, came ahead of Thursday’s elections to the European Parliament.
Lorraine Mullally, director of the Eurosceptic think tank Open Europe, said: “There is virtually no appetite in Britain for the Euro, especially at the moment as many Eurozone countries come under severe pressure in the recession.
"So it’s extraordinary that the Government has been busy working behind the scenes to secretly prepare Britain’s entry.
“When President Barroso said ‘the people who matter in Britain are currently thinking about’ joining the Euro, he certainly wasn’t talking about the British people. He was talking about Gordon Brown and his team of ‘Euro ministers’.”
Today, a ComRes survey for the TaxPayers’ Alliance reveals that just 28 per cent of the public think Britain should join the Euro, with 68 per cent opposing the move.
The Communities and Local Government Department’s plan spells out the need to prepare for council tax and business rate bills to be issued in the new currency.
But a Treasury spokesman insisted last night: “Nothing has changed in our policy. There are no active plans to join the Euro.”