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Tuesday, 1 January, 2002, 18:48 GMT
Tories attack 'flawed' euro
Travellers can buy euros at London's Heathrow airport
The Conservatives have renewed their criticism of the euro, which has become legal tender in 12 of the 15 EU countries.

Underlining the Tories' opposition, party chairman David Davis said up to 70% of British people are still against giving up the pound.

He told the BBC's World at One programme: "Keeping the pound is best for Britain."

Mr Davis said Britain, as the world's fourth largest economy should retain control of its economy.

Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice that we are not part of it

Lord Lamont

"It's not right for Britain, certainly not for the foreseeable future as we can see, because it is fundamentally flawed."

"It's a problem that you have a one-size fits all interest rate across Europe."

And former Tory chancellor Lord Lamont said: "As the citizens of Europe wake up to the reality of what their politicians have committed themselves to, Britain should count its lucky stars it is not in the euro.

"Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice that we are not part of it."

The Deputy Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, Theresa Villiers, said: "Whether the launch of notes and coins runs with perfect efficiency or whether there are widespread practical problems, the launch of euro notes does not change the fundamental questions for ordinary people in the UK.

Europe Minister Peter Hain
Hain: "Euro will affect Britain"

"Do we want to retain democratic control over the UK economy or not?

"Do we want the people we elect at a general election to run the UK economy or do we want a one-size-fits-all euro-economic policy set in Frankfurt?

"Anyone answering yes to these questions should vote to keep our currency, regardless of how well or badly the euro launch goes."

Europe Minister Peter Hain has denied that he regards British membership of the new currency as inevitable.

Earlier he had suggested there was little doubt that Gordon Brown's economic tests would be met at some point, triggering a referendum.

But he later said he did not want to pre-empt the assessment the Chancellor is set to complete in the next 17 months.

"I do not regard anything as inevitable in politics," he said.

There is one thing that is inevitable about the euro and that is it marching on with or without us

Europe Minister, Peter Hain

"We want to join but we will only join when it is economically right for Britain to do so and that is the only common sense approach."

But Mr Hain added: "There is one thing that is inevitable about the euro and that is it marching on with or without us.

"The increasingly urgent question for British citizens is whether we want to get left behind yet again as we have been consistently in Europe."

Bill Morris, leader of the Transport and General Workers Union, urged the government to rule out a referendum until after the next election, to focus on public services.

He said a "euro lemming the dark" at the moment was "not the best decision for Britain".

And Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said: "British jobs and British industry loses out if we are not full members of the single currency. The government has got to act getting the timetable in position this year."

The BBC's Sarah Lockett
"This is as much a political issue as an economic one"
UK Minister for Europe Peter Hain
"We don't want to get left behind"
David Davis, Chairman, Conservative Party
"This is a wrong policy"
See also:

01 Jan 02 | UK Politics
UK 'would lose power' outside euro
01 Jan 02 | Business
Euro's 'massive impact' on Britons
31 Dec 01 | UK Politics
UK euro decision 'on its way'
30 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Euro heats UK tempers
01 Jan 02 | UK Confidential
Treasury's 1970 'euro' warning
01 Jan 02 | Business
Euro becomes a reality
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