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Thursday, March 12, 1998 Published at 04:15 GMT


Why we say non to EMU - Blair
image: [ Britain will not be joining the euro in the first phase in 1999 ]
Britain will not be joining the euro in the first phase in 1999

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has used an interview on French TV to explain why Britain will not join the single European currency in the first phase next year.

[ image: Tony Blair with Lionel Jospin]
Tony Blair with Lionel Jospin
Mr Blair stressed that economic conditions in the UK were not right for the Euro now. "The British economic cycle is different to that of Europe, we are (at) a different economic stage."

The Prime Minister also rejected suggestions Britain was waiting to see if the euro would be a success.

He stressed that the French had been preparing for the single currency for much longer. "It's really about making sure that the economics work and I think that's important for all our countries."

[ image: Lionel Jospin is pressing ahead with single currency membership]
Lionel Jospin is pressing ahead with single currency membership
The Prime Minister stressed the need for economies to be flexible, but tried to play down differences in approach between New Labour and the French socialists, led by French premier Lionel Jospin.

"We are actually close together on many issues," he said.

But the Prime Minister signalled that French plans to introduce a 35-hour working week were unlikely to be taken up in the UK.

Mr Blair told the French: "That's for you to do. I entirely understand why people take that view in France. We obviously pursue our own policies."

Mr Blair also laughed off suggestions he was about to become a Roman Catholic, insisting his religious beliefs were a private matter and adding: "These stories happen about once every six months.

"My faith is a matter for me but I think that the values are decent, civilised values that most people would share."


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