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Monday, 24 December, 2001, 10:47 GMT
Euro view: Lord Heseltine
Lord Heseltine
By Lord Heseltine, former deputy prime minister

Joining the euro is the next logical step in the single market. It will give a great boost to our competitiveness in Europe and simplify transaction costs or avoid them.

In contrast, staying out deters inward investment, affects the City of London and leaves us out of the mainstream of European politics.

I would like to see a referendum as soon as it is practical to see that we can move forward.

We joined a much more enlightened and visionary concept of a united Europe

Michael Heseltine
It is perfectly possible to have a vote on the basis of the principle of joining and to leave the timing of entry to the government.

To win the referendum, we would have to persuade people that the world is shrinking, that sovereignty means a very different thing in the 21st century than it did in the 19th, that Britain's influence is more likely to be extended, that our friendship with America will be stronger and that the economic benefits are positive.

We have got to get off this business that we joined a free trade area. We didn't. We joined a much more enlightened and visionary concept of a united Europe.

The euro is part of the building blocks of that vision. We share environment policy, trade policy, defence policy and the single currency is now in the rest of Europe.

This government has got to get onto the front foot and make the case for entry. Its failure to do so is demoralising and it sends an unclear signal.

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