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Friday, 15 June, 2001, 22:53 GMT 23:53 UK
Blair urged to start euro campaign
Tony Blair with other European leaders
Mr Blair jokes with other European leaders
Tony Blair is facing calls from pro-euro Conservatives to begin campaigning for British entry into the single currency.

Former Tory ministers Ian Taylor and Lord Brittan - now also a former EU commissioner - will urge the prime minister to show "the courage to start a full-hearted campaign" for the UK to join the euro.

They will make the call for Mr Blair to take the lead on the controversial issue of the euro when they speak at a two-day conference of the European Movement in Cardiff.

The call, coming as it does just 10 days since Mr Blair won his second landslide victory, will be seen as an attempt to keep the views of the pro-euro wing of the Tories firmly on the agenda during the course of the forthcoming party leadership contest.

Pressure

The Labour leadership faces increasing pressure from groups like the European Movement and the Britain in Europe campaign over the issue of the single currency.

But speaking at the Gothenburg summit of European leaders in Sweden, Mr Blair said there was no change in the government's position on the euro.

Mr Taylor believes Mr Blair should take the opportunity of his second landslide victory to launch a campaign.

Leon Brittan
Mr Brittan is expected to speak out on the euro
Meanwhile pro-European and former Tory chancellor Kenneth Clarke is expected to announce he is ready to campaign with Mr Blair in support of the euro.

Supporters for the only declared candidate, Michael Portillo, are expected will spend the weekend canvassing for support.

Mr Portillo received a boost on Friday when it emerged he had the backing of former health secretary Stephen Dorrell in his bid to succeed William Hague.

Key figure

Mr Dorrell is a key figure on the left of the party and his support for Mr Portillo will be a boost for the shadow chancellor's claim to be able to unite the divided wings of the Conservative Party

Ann Widdecombe will announce her intentions on Monday and talks are said to be going on between Ian Duncan Smith, David Davis and John Redwood over selecting a candidate from the right of the party.

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See also:

15 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Tories call for vote on Nice Treaty
14 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Straw - I'm a practical European
14 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Clarke's doubts on leadership bid
13 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Portillo kicks off leadership battle
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