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Sunday, 29 July, 2001, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
No euro purge says Duncan Smith
Iain Duncan Smith
Iain Duncan Smith says he is the underdog in the contest
Iain Duncan Smith says he will take a tolerant attitude to euro-supporters if he wins the Conservative leadership race and include them in his shadow cabinet.

He said his aim will be to unite the party and make sure he is supported by the best people, even if they favour the single currency.

But he also warned that he would take a tough stance against entering the euro in a referendum.

Any euro-supporter in the shadow cabinet would have to stand down for the duration of such a referendum, he added.

I want people in the shadow cabinet who have real quality

Iain Duncan Smith
"I'm not going to purge euro-supporters, what we have got to do is try to bring the party together. What I'm going to say is that the party has a position, a leader must have a clear position," he told Sky News.

"I am going to say if elected that the party will oppose the euro at the referendum. That's straight.

"But I want people in the shadow cabinet who have real quality... and they will be allowed stand down temporarily, campaign for it (the euro) positively, and then come back afterwards."

According to Mr Duncan Smith, he is the underdog in the contest to replace William Hague as Tory leader.

But he has predicted that he will eventually win because of his opposition to UK entry into the euro.

Speaking on Sky News, he warned of the dangers of electing his leadership rival Ken Clarke, who is single currency enthusiast.

Party split

He argued that it would be playing into the government's hands to have an overwhelmingly Eurosceptic party led by Mr Clarke.

That would give Tony Blair the opportunity to engineer a split within Tory ranks, he said.

"What if the Prime Minister decides to hold the referendum at the next election?" he said.

"You will have the position where a small minority led by the leader of the party then votes with the government on an issue right in the middle of the election and the rest of the party breaks up in all directions."

Mr Duncan Smith said the party needed to come together on Europe and the only way to do that was for it to elect a leader who shared the "majority position" of the Tories on the EU and single currency.

Ken Clarke
Mr Clarke: wants compromise over Europe
"Ken is calling me extreme on Europe, and my point is the only extreme position on Europe is to take a fundamentally different line from the majority of the party and then ask them to break up over the issue, that would be the most extreme position," he said.

There was increased speculation on Sunday about Baroness Thatcher lending her backing to his leadership campaign. Mr Duncan Smith dismissed the reports.

"I have had no such endorsement from Lady Thatcher and I'm unaware that she is about to do so," he said.

Speaking on BBC 1's Breakfast with Frost programme, former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who supports Mr Clarke's candidature, said he would not be surprised if Lady Thatcher did decide to back Mr Duncan Smith.

"She of course carries enormous respect in the party and rightly so. But she is known to be from the very right of the party, she is known to have very hard-line views on Europe.

"It would be pretty astonishing in these circumstances if she was to choose anyone other than Iain Duncan Smith, in terms of her own personal preference."

Tory Party members will vote on who they want to be leader in September.

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See also:

26 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Duncan Smith admits underdog status
19 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Clarke and Duncan Smith battle on
25 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Tory hopefuls take to hustings
17 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Picture gallery: Tory leadership
17 Jul 01 | Talking Point
Who should lead the Tories?
26 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Clarke ahead among ordinary voters
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