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Chancellor Gordon Brown speaking from New York
"We're going to make Britain the best competitive environment"
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Tuesday, 22 February, 2000, 17:16 GMT
Brown's euro timetable

The euro
The UK has yet to sign up to the single currency

Chancellor Gordon Brown has confirmed the next changeover plan on preparations to join the euro will be published in the coming weeks.

In a speech to the British-American Chamber of Commerce in New York, Mr Brown stressed Britain's EU membership was "critical" to its economic success.

He also announced next month's Budget would be a "Budget for British business".

The chancellor said the second national changeover plan, setting out the practical steps needed for the UK to join the euro, would be published "in the coming weeks".

In an attack on Eurosceptics, he said: "Those anti-Europeans who continually pose Britain against Europe are also refusing to acknowledge the central importance of Europe to the jobs and prosperity of Britain."

Euro advantages

Earlier, he had spelled out what he saw as the advantages for the UK of EU membership by stressing that some 750,000 UK companies export to Europe, trade worth 50% of the country's total exports and millions of jobs.

His comments followed a warning on Monday by Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers that ministers had "not been engaged sufficiently" in making the case for the EU and had "taken for granted" that people were aware of the benefits of membership.

Mr Brown used his speech to emphasise his "toughness in economic management" and warned that, despite city forecasts he has a 7bn "war chest" at his disposal, he was not planning a giveaway Budget.

"We will not make the old mistake of relaxing our fiscal discipline the moment the economy starts to grow," he said.

He also reaffirmed his determination to support the Bank of England in any "difficult decisions" it took to raise interest rates again.

"To build a new British economy, we must have more competition, more enterprise, more innovation, and more long-term investment - not least in education," he said.

"I want Britain to be the best competitive environment for business in the world. This is a challenge for Britain."

Mr Brown reaffirmed his intention, announced in his Pre-Budget Report in November, to taper down the 40% rate of capital gains tax to 10% after a business has been in operation for five years, rather than 10 as at present.

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See also:
14 Oct 99 |  Business
Is the UK ready for the euro?
21 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
3m jobs 'dependent on EU'
18 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Hague puts anti-euro campaign online
15 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Maples mars Hague's euro roadshow

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