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banner Tuesday, 3 October, 2000, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
Battle for sterling won in 10 minutes
It may go down as the shortest rally in history - if it goes down in history at all.

For all of 10 minutes Tories who oppose the euro gathered outside the conference hall by the sea in Bournemouth to wave banners bearing the legend "Keep The Pound".

With the bravery of a man who knows he is surrounded by friends and inside a police cordon, Tory leader William Hague strode purposefully through those party members that had decided to endure the drizzle and mounted a stage in front of them.

Only one man had come prepared for the autumnal seaside weather and he was wearing what appeared to be a Union Jack teacosy - on message but not en vogue.

Standing in front of the Keep The Pound truck that had been so rapturously received by Tory supporters as it drove round the country, Mr Hague began to address the crowd.

Braving the possibility of unkind comparisons with bandwagons, Mr Hague told the rally that hundreds of people had turned up wherever the lorry went.

"I don't think the government would try to take their message out [like this]," he remarked and he may well be right.

Shadow foreign secretary Francis Maude also appeared on the stage with Mr Hague and told the gathering that the Conservatives were the one party in tune with the "mainstream majority".

"They don't believe that we have to give up the pound," he said.

"We believe in Britain, no other party does."

An unwise question from the audience about the Danes being great again after last week's referendum brought Mr Maude's wit to the fore.

The Danes, he said, had given the euro a "Danish pasting" but he warned: "We shouldn't say the Danes had saved our bacon".

Observers then wondered if Tory Party chairman Michael Ancram decided something had gone dreadfully wrong because it was just at this point that he announced things ought to come to a close as the luncheon hour was upon them.

Having won the battle for the pound, the audience promptly sloped off for refreshment - bacon sarnies, presumably.

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See also:

03 Oct 00 | Talking Point
Were the Danes right to reject the euro?
29 Sep 00 | UK Politics
The great euro debate
29 Sep 00 | UK Politics
Danish vote rocks Blair
15 Feb 00 | UK Politics
The circus comes to town
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