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The BBC's Andrew Marr
looks at what David Clark said
 real 28k

David Clark, former special adviser to Robin Cook
"I think the way the government has handled the issue has not been to put the British interest first"
 real 28k

Shadow Foreign Secretary Francis Maude
"We failed to make it [the euro] a decisive election issue"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 12 June, 2001, 09:09 GMT 10:09 UK
Cook 'gagged on euro'
Tony Blair and Robin Cook
Former foreign secretary Robin Cook was gagged from speaking out in favour of the UK joining the euro, an ex-aide has claimed.

Senior cabinet colleagues were afraid any debate on the issue would harm Labour's chances of securing its historic second term in office, David Clark says.

The way they've been used is entirely political

David Clark on the five economic tests
A special adviser to Mr Cook for seven years, Mr Clark also accuses Chancellor Gordon Brown of "humbug" for claiming to put Britain's economic interests first in the single currency debate.

"It's quite clear from the way they have debated the issue so far that they are afraid to set out the arguments in favour even in principle of joining the single currency," Mr Clark told the BBC.

"I think the result of that is a debate that has gone backwards.

"I think the way the government has handled the issue has not been to put the British interest first, it has been to put their electoral prospects first."

David Clark's Guardian article
Mr Clark said government handling of euro policy had been 'discreditable'
Mr Clark said the government's five economic tests, which it says the UK must fulfil before a recommendation to join can be put to a referendum, had been used as an "excuse to delay".

In a newspaper article setting out his views in detail, Mr Clark accuses Mr Brown of "playing games" and putting Labour's self-interest at the heart of government policy designed around the economic tests.

A significant proportion of Britain's manufacturing industry, saddled with crippling interest rates compared to competitors within the eurozone, has been "sacrificed" by the government, he said.

Leadership 'frightened'

He writes in the Guardian that "even the most limited attempts to present some of the arguments were closed off by a leadership too frightened to share them with the electorate".

In four years working on the government's European policy, Mr Clark goes on, he more than once was "driven to recall Lord Howe's metaphor of the batsman taking to the crease only to find that his bat had been broken by his own captain".

He calls on ministers to move on from their "discreditable" handling of the euro issue.

The comments were seized on by the Conservatives.

Subterfuge claim

Shadow foreign secretary Francis Maude said Mr Clark "blows the gaffe on all of the wrangling and dishonesty at the centre of this government".

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's "stealth and subterfuge" on the euro illustrated why people felt unconnected from politics and the election turnout was so low, Mr Maude added.

At the same time further pressure was put on the government over the euro by the chairman of Anglo-Dutch consumer giant Unilever.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
Jack Straw took over from Robin Cook as foreign secretary
Niall Fitzgerald warned of "serious repercussions" if ministers continued to delay a decision on the euro.

On Monday new Foreign Secretary Jack Straw sought to dampen speculation he is more sceptical about Britain joining the eurozone than his predecessor.

Mr Cook was shifted from the foreign office in Prime Minister Tony Blair's post-election reshuffle.

He is now serving in what many observers regard as a more junior post, leader of the House of Commons.

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See also:

11 Jun 01 | UK
Straw's Europe debut
11 Jun 01 | Business
Pound must fall 10% for euro entry
08 Jun 01 | Vote2001
Cook loses Foreign Office
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