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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 March, 2004, 15:00 GMT
Brown rejects fresh euro test
Gordon Brown
The Chancellor believes his fiscal rules are better
Chancellor Gordon Brown has ruled out a further assessment of the five economic tests for Britain joining the euro.

But Mr Brown, who was outlining his eighth Budget to the Commons, said he would revisit the issue next year.

Matthew McGregor, of the anti-euro "No" campaign, welcomed the move, saying: "The chancellor has knocked the euro off the political agenda."

Mr Brown also attacked the EU "stability and growth" pact, saying his fiscal rules were more flexible.

Different focus

His decision was "welcomed" by eurosceptic Conservative leader Michael Howard, to ironic cheers from the Tory benches.

Last year, Mr Brown ruled out joining the single currency after carrying out five economic tests.

He pledged a Budget update on whether enough had changed to trigger another five-test assessment.

The bottom line is that there will be no referendum in the next few years - that is the right decision for Britain and the right decision for Labour
Ian Davidson
Labour Against the Euro

During his statement on Wednesday, he told MPs: "While the government does not propose a euro assessment to be initiated at the time of this Budget, the Treasury will again review progress at Budget time next year and report to the House."

That announcement was welcomed by the "No" campaign.

"No" campaign manager Mr McGregor said: "Even under the new 'rolling assessment' timetable, the earliest opportunity for the government to hold a vote is 2008.

"The chancellor has knocked the euro off the political agenda - now the government can concentrate on what it was elected to do.

"Gordon has made the right decision for Britain."

Discussion paper

Labour MP Ian Davidson, chairman of Labour Against the Euro, said: "There has been the usual spin to calm the pro-euro lobby, but the bottom line is that there will be no referendum in the next few years - that is the right decision for Britain and the right decision for Labour.

"Now we can go into the next election focusing on the issues that really matter to people, like schools and hospitals."

Mr Brown has also published a "discussion paper" calling for reforms to the eurozone's financial rules to bring them more in line with his own fiscal framework.

Mr Brown believes his rules are superior to the EU stability and growth pact because they allow countries to borrow more when the economy is weak.




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